Local small businesses wanting to know more about contracting opportunities with Fort Carson got their chance in an open house May 27 at the Mountain Post.
“This forum is … an opportunity for us, as a contracting organization for the Army, and you, business leaders and business partners, to share information,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Ostby, commander, 918th Contingency Contracting Battalion/Mission and Installation Contracting Command – Fort Carson.
Attendees learned how the Army contracting process works, some of the basic requirements and a few upcoming contracts that need to be filled.
“A positive is that they’re reaching out to the public and letting us know about all the opportunities that are coming up, or at least some of them, and getting us acquainted with each other. I think that’s important,” said Lee Shakespeare, business development manager for Rocky Mountain Group, an engineering firm.
When there is a procurement for less than $150,000, it must be set aside for small business, as long as there are at least two businesses that can compete for the contract, said Barbara Gutow, small business specialist for Fort Carson.
“Our market research is still going to prevail, so even though it says mandatory set-aside under $150,000 to small business, if our market research tells us that there aren’t any capable small businesses, then we are going to go unrestricted,” she said.
In fiscal 2013, Fort Carson spent about $41 million on small business contracts.
“Small business is the engine of our economy,” Gutow said. “It promotes productivity and employment statistics. It generates patents, and it enhances competition, which results in better value to the government.”
Representatives from Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center were on hand to answer questions and give advice to businesses hoping to do business with Fort Carson.
“Contracting officers and contracting specialists really don’t have the time to teach you, and that’s what Colorado PTAC is all about, to educate you on the process, state, local, federal,” said Dennis Casey, deputy director for PTAC.
The open house was the first of its kind at Fort Carson.
“This has never been done here,” Ostby said. “(It’s) my way of reaching out to our folks who provide service to our war-fighters and our family members and our civilians … it’s huge because it gives what kind of capabilities are out there, also to dispel and identify some of the challenges. It’s not going to fit everybody in the audience, but maybe if we can catch one or two that might now know what we do and the type of requirements that we have, this will definitely give them an eye-opening experience.”
The knowledge was appreciated by Adil and Farha Khan from Accentz, Inc., an energy-related company.
“Our voices got heard,” said Adil Khan. “For the last two years, we have been trying to get an appointment. Because of this event, we were able to meet the right person.”
“We at least know who we have to go to right now,” Farha Khan said. “This has been really, really useful.”
Ostby stressed that the purpose of the open house was more than just signing up small businesses to be government contractors.
“What we’re going to do is, we’re going to share what type of requirements or needs, whether it’s service, commodity or minor construction, from my organization and Fort Carson so (they) can be aware of what’s going on,” he said.
The information was valuable to Bill Mounga, marketing director for Orion Environmental, a company that already has received some contracts at Fort Carson.
“We’ve been asking for three years, ‘When are you guys going to do an event?’ ” he said. “This was a phenomenal opportunity.”
Fort Carson has set high goals for small business contracts, hoping to award 44 percent to small business for fiscal 2014, Gutow said.
“Fort Carson, if you take note of what (its) goals are, exceeds what the federal goals are,” Ostby said.
The federal goal is 23 percent small business.
Ostby said he hopes to have another open house in the future.
“It helps me out as a commander to have that expectation management and also to reach out to our customers, see what their requirements are, and share that information,” Ostby said.