Last week congressional leaders, government civilian leaders, Pentagon officials, military base commanders and business representatives gathered at the third annual West Coast Small Business Defense Contracting Summit. It provided an opportunity for small businesses to meet and discuss their important role in developing and delivering the technologies to give the United States military an edge in the 21st century.

Among those attending were representatives from the Naval Information Warfare Command (NAVWAR), which met with small businesses about the warfighting technologies that could be utilized by the fleet.

The summit offered insight into contract opportunities and guest speakers informed businesses about the mission and current contracting priorities of the United States military, as well as other government agencies and connected businesses with the federal contracting resources.

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The goal of the two-day summit was to offer matchmaking sessions with prime contractors and government agencies; while general sessions and contracting presentations were provided by senior military contracting officials and contracting experts.

Summit participants and speakers included:

  • 30th Operations Group Commander, Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • Contracts Directorate from Naval Information Warfare Systems Command
  • Director, Office of Small Business Programs from U.S. Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center
  • 412th Wing Senior Installation Support Director from Edwards Air Force Base
  • U.S. General Services Administration Pacific Rim Region
  • San Diego District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Director, Office of Small Business Programs, Naval Air Systems Command
  • Chief of Contracting, Operational Contracting Office, March Air Reserve Base

 The summit also featured sessions that included the latest information on contracts to rebuild the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake; Air Force, Navy, and small business contracting opportunities and procedures; military base mission and contracting priorities; subcontracting opportunities with prime defense contractors; and government small business contracting resources.

The Defense Leadership Roundtable, an invitation-only focus group discussion between summit speakers and other guests, provided insight into the current issues and challenges facing the small business community today. This included input from experts, and also offered possible solutions.

There were other sessions that further highlighted the importance of small businesses today. As part of the U.S Navy’s small business programs and opportunities panel, NAVWAR Director of Contractors Nancy Gunderson explained NAVWAR’s mission areas and functions, as well as it small business goals and contracting opportunities.

“Industry partners are a vital part of our team,” said Gunderson via the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS). “As our technological environment continues to change and threats continue to evolve, being inclusive of small business creates the potential for agility and innovation. That’s a huge priority for NAVWAR and for the Navy.”

During the event’s matchmaking sessions, NAVWAR’s Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) explained the process in detail.

“The conversation has to start somewhere,” said Angela King, acting director, NAVWAR Small Business Programs. “Events like the West Coast Small Business Defense Contracting Summit are just one way that we can cultivate and strengthen relationships that will be critical to future solutions.”

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.