Fort Irwin small business outreach attracts outpouring response

Diane House briefs contract opportunities with the Army before a packed house of small and large industry representatives during an acquisition forecast open house May 1 in Barstow, California. Approximately 120 business representatives took part in the event. House is a small business specialist with the Mission and Installation Contracting Command.

Approximately 120 representatives from small businesses and some large industry took part in an acquisition forecast open house May 1 hosted by members of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Irwin, Calif.

“Hosting this event locally in Barstow brought about an excitement from the local community and sparked interest in the vendor base supporting our warfighters at the National Training Center,” said Lt. Col. Frankie Cruz, commander of the MICC-Fort Irwin contracting office.

Luis Trinidad, the deputy assistant director for MICC Small Business Programs at Fort Hood, Texas, said the event was so highly attended that the large hall reserved for the event ended up being standing room only and drawing highly positive feedback from those in attendance.

MICC contracting officer Dr. Derrick Darden said the event’s benefit to local businesses is immeasurable.

“The acquisition forum was different from others that I’ve attended in the past five years. I saw a renewed hope that Fort Irwin and the government was finally open for business. Many of the vendors came from as far away as Virginia as well as local business owners,” Darden said. “Many were looking for new opportunities to grow their businesses, but didn’t know how or where to start.”

Darden pointed to Pelton Smalls of Heart Driven Inc., which specializes in digital printing on sports apparel and other novelty items. After listening to the different presentations and having the opportunity to network with other business owners attending the forum, Smalls felt confident of the future business opportunities.

“Mr. Smalls is a small example of the excitement and hope expressed by others in getting future government contracts so their businesses could grow,” Darden said. “I felt a sense of renewed faith and hope in our vendor base, our community contribution and in the economy as a whole.”

With the aim of bringing tangible value to industry and MICC-Fort Irwin’s contracting partners, feedback provided to the contracting office indicates the objective was met.

“You drew in an amazing crowd. Very impressive. I wish they had more room. It was standing room only for those who arrived a few minutes late, but they got an excellent forecasting presentation,” one small business partner wrote.

Helping make the event a success was support from the nearby Riverside Procurement Technical Assistance Center, General Services Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, Inland Empire Small Business Development Center, and Barstow Chamber of Commerce president and executive director along with their staff.

MICC acquisition forecast outreach events take place at most of the command’s 30 locations. American small businesses bring a multitude of skill sets, equipment and capabilities to support, sustain and strengthen readiness initiative objectives through Army contracting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, small businesses are persistent job creators, topping large businesses job creation in 15 of the last 20 quarters by creating two out of three net new jobs over the last five years.

Editor’s note: Diane House is a Mission and Installation Contracting Command small business professional also responsible for representing small business interests with the command’s contracting offices at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Fort Riley, Kansas, and Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz.


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