The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Galveston District (SWG) held its latest Industry Day, Jan. 17, 2024.
Industry Day is an opportunity for SWG to communicate face-to-face with small businesses the requirements for doing business with USACE.
Industry Day is also an opportunity for the Small Business Administration, other USACE Southwestern Division, and USACE Headquarters representatives to present useful information to businesses seeking federal contracts.
Despite inclement weather across Texas and the nation, the event took place as scheduled at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.
“It’s wonderful to see you here today,” said Kay Riplinger-Baltz, SWG’s Small Business Program deputy. “Considering how cold it’s been, I think this is all an accomplishment.”
The day was full of educational and networking opportunities.
Col. Rhett Blackmon, SWG district commander, gave opening remarks to the hundreds of attendees.
“I’m excited for today’s program,” Blackmon said. “I think we’ve got some opportunities to learn some things we may not have known before or confirm some other information.”
Blackmon welcomed the large crowd which included businesses, federal entity representatives, and non-federal project sponsors.
“We’ve got over 300 attendees signed up across all those, many of those being from industry,” Blackmon said. “There’s a lot of large businesses and a lot of small businesses. This is a great opportunity to network. If you’re a small business, network with some of those large businesses that you believe you can support their mission and do work for them and vice versa.”
With greater collaboration comes greater opportunity to deliver projects on time and on budget, Blackmon said.
“The purpose of our day here is to continue with our Galveston District and our Corps of Engineers’ desire to better partner and connect and communicate with the industry that executes most of our mission,” Blackmon said.
The commander highlighted improvements which he has seen in recent years and attributed them to events like Industry Day and the work contributed by SWG team members to make them a reality.
“We’ve seen that sub-contracting plans are showing better effort to incorporate small businesses into the sub-contracting plans, and we appreciate that,” Blackmon said. “I believe that’s a function of these sort of things and engagement where we have good training and good connections that are being made.”
Half a dozen small businesses were in attendance for their first Industry Day. Blackmon welcomed them and encouraged them to get as much out of the day as possible, as the classes will make it easier to get certain contracting requirements right, improving efficiency.
“Recently for the first time, we had one of our small businesses get … a first submission acceptance on their safety documents,” Blackmon said. “That’s a significant thing. Obviously, we take safety very seriously for our contracts. I highlight that as a demonstration of this continued partnership and engagement and how to do this better.”
After the commander’s opening remarks, Galveston District program managers gave attendees an overview of the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay project, a fully funded, multi-billion-dollar hurricane protection project to shelter the northeastern coast of Texas from severe storms.
“Freeport and Port Arthur, they’re existing systems and then Orange is a brand-new system,” said Toniette “Toni” Addison, P.E., the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay (S2G) Division chief.
Addison gave the audience a brief timeline and synopsis of the work which will have to be done to complete the project.
“Brand new levies, flood walls and sector gates are being constructed for Orange,” Addison said. “In May of 2017, the feasibility study was completed. In December of 2017, the Chief signed off on that report. In October of 2018, we received authorization in the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 and we also received full funding for this project -- $3.9 billion through the bipartisan budget act of 2018.”
After the S2G program overview, Small Business Administration representatives presented resources to attendees, including a block of instruction on accessing capital to include the five C’s of credit and what lenders look for when small businesses want to secure lines of credit.
Then, Erin Williams, USACE Fort Worth District’s (SWF) Program and Professional Support Branch program manager presented the audience with information on market research.
After lunch and plenty of networking, attendees returned for afternoon courses on cybersecurity, legislative updates, and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
For more information about doing business with USACE, please visit swg.usace.army.mil.