WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Walla Walla District held its annual Industry Day today at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center in Walla Walla, Washington.
The day-long event was open to those interested in learning about how to do business with the Corps. Over 80 business representatives were in attendance, some from as far away as Boston, Massachusetts and Kodiak, Alaska. The event was a chance to learn about the nature of the Corps, upcoming opportunities and about the contracting process.
“By hosting an industry day like this, people that don’t have much experience with it have a chance to learn about how to do business with the government, how to do business with us. They learn about what opportunities are available and they have the opportunity to ask questions and talk with our staff who are extremely knowledgeable on the intricacies of the process,” Lt. Col. Christian Dietz, commander of the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers said.
District personnel presented informational briefings and a panel of District staff members who are frequently involved with reviewing contract proposals answered a wide variety of questions posed by attendees.
“A meeting like this helps you come in as a small business to engage with the right people and know what’s really going on … it gives you that information and helps you engage and make the proper decision and proper preparation for future work,” Louis Chrispin, vice president and chief operating officer of LXC Engineering Group said.
For many attendees, Industry Day offered the chance to network with other businesses who do work for the Corps.
That small-business to large-business networking can be key to successful federal contract performance. Large businesses which have capacity to perform complex, high-value work often sub-contract with small businesses to perform portions of total scope of work.
“It’s been really great for us to meet lots of other primes and subs for us to work with. We are a small company, we are actually now an 8(a) woman-owned small business, but initially coming here and just meeting potential partners, potential team members and potential mentors has been great,” Leslie Eldridge, president of Water, Civil, and Environmental Inc., said.
The Walla Walla District awards contracts for construction projects, architect-engineering studies, and supplies and services needed to operate their facilities. These contracting opportunities annually total $90 to $130 million. The district is responsible for managing environmental, hydroelectric, navigation, engineering, construction, emergency management and recreation services within a region covering 107,000 square miles that includes parts of six states. The district operates and maintains six hydroelectric power facilities, four flood-risk-reduction projects and $2.5 billion of infrastructure.
“Even though federal contracting is still a numbers game most of the time, in evaluation it’s still a people game. Understanding your client, building a relationship with that client and the level of confidence that they may have, those are all pieces to it. So even though it’s a very regulatory type of environment, it’s still a people business and you need to know your client,” James Glynn, the deputy for Small Business Programs with the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers said.
The Walla Walla District’s Contracting Facebook page (www.facebook/com/wallawallacontracting) will keep prospective attendees updated on future events as they are scheduled and the Small Business website http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Business-With-Us/Small-Business/. Photos from the 2019 Industry Day event will also available on the District’s Contracting Facebook page.