It’s that time again! The Innovation Hub in downtown Little Rock was abuzz last week with more than 240 people representing 180 plus businesses from across the region, for the annual Industry Days contracting event. Industry Days have been a boon periodically over 13 years for the Little Rock District. This informational and business exchanges symposium gives the District an opportunity to educate contractors on the basics of the contracting process.
Some of the elements discussed are the types of work offered, what it takes to put in a good bid, how to obtain a contract, how to stay in good standing, and how to get compensated. Industry Days is important since it allows the Corps to receive better submissions of bid packages, ensuring that they can select contractors who will be the best fit for the contract being awarded.
Given this event has been held numerous times over the last decade, it might be a challenge to generate continued interest year after year. However, the Little Rock team has been able to stave off stagnancy by continually offering new and varied educational content in tandem with business opportunities for contractors to obtain partnerships with other contractors.
According to Sandra Easter chief of contracting, “There is a diverse group that comes to Industry Days each year that are solely looking for partnerships. Attending this event allows them to have the opportunity to obtain those coveted partnerships. This is just one of the many ways we are able to create interest year after year.”
Among one of the primary reasons that Little Rock’s Industry Days are so successful is due to a dedicated core team made up of 12 individuals, whose main goal is to create a meaningful exchange between contractors and the Corps. This is achieved by the team securing multiple business opportunities from other agencies. Additionally, the symposium featured representation from other Corps districts in the Southwestern Division, Northwestern Division, and Mississippi Valley Division in order to maximize these opportunities while the contractors are in attendance.
Annually, there are over 1,000 contract actions processed. And more than a billion dollars in contracts are up for grabs for fiscal year 2019, so attending Industry Days acts as a jumping off point for contractors to learn the steps needed to succeed in bidding on these contracts.
Col. Robert Dixon, the commander of the Little Rock District had this to say about the event, “Industry Days is all about opportunity, networking, and learning. Government contracts can be quite difficult to work with at times because they involve a maze of rules and regulations that can be challenging to navigate. However, USACE and its partners at the Small Business Administration and the Arkansas Procurement Assistance Center are here to help. Whether you are a big business with lots of experience or a small business just starting out, navigating the government acquisition process is a team sport, and this forum is a great place to find teammates.”
The two day event has been fruitful for contractors and the Corps alike. It has allowed contractors the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to construct well-tailored bids and the Corps to get the best people for the job. It’s a win, win!