The F-35 mission coming to Luke Air Force Base is expected to bring sweeping changes to the base and will offer local small businesses new opportunities. This was the highlight of the 56th Contracting Squadron’s Small Business Outreach and Training Day held Oct. l8 at the Falcon Dunes Golf Course.
The community response was tremendous, according to Mary Peetz, 56th CONS business operations director and training day speaker.
“It was a huge success attended by 120 people representing 85 small businesses,” she said. “This year’s event was twice the size of our previous quarterly outreach.”
Peetz said the process isn’t fast, simple or easy for businesses trying to obtain a contract at Luke. One of the benefits of attending the outreach and training day was learning the techniques of getting a contract with Luke.
“The focus of this quarter’s outreach and training day was to educate local small businesses on how to prepare themselves for upcoming contract opportunities in support of Luke’s new F-35 mission,” she said.
A variety of organizations besides the 56th CONS offered training to businesses interested in obtaining a contract with the federal government.
“We had presentations from the Phoenix Small Business Administration, Arizona Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Women’s Business Enterprise Council-West and Minority Business Development Agency,” said 1st Lt. Emy Winkler, 56th CONS contracting officer. “These organizations provided valuable assistance to small businesses that are interested in doing business with the federal government.”
The outreach and training day featured two parts.
“The invited organizations spoke and discussed what they could provide, while the two speakers from our squadron discussed specifics on working with contracting at Luke,” she said. “The afternoon was about the companies sharing what they can do for us and networking with each other. In short, the morning was for us to educate the contractors, and the afternoon was for the contractors to educate us.”
Peetz said the 56th CONS also offers numerous marketing tips for small businesses that want to do business with the federal government, which offer good insight and equips small businesses to navigate through the process.
The contracting office is staffed by 22 civilians and 24 military personnel and has a large economic impact for this area, according to Peetz.
“We spend $50 million annually for construction, services and commodities to keep the Luke mission ready,” she said. “In fiscal 2012, 93 percent of every contract dollar awarded by the 56th CONS went to a small business. In addition, $23.7 million of those dollars went to Arizona small businesses, many of whom have a home office in Maricopa County.”