SPOTLIGHT – 2013 Stennis Industry Days – the Business of Doing Business at Stennis Space Center

On February 27 and 28 businesses from across the US gathered for the 2013 Stennis Industry Days held at the IP Casino in Biloxi and hosted by the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology drawing over 300 attendees.

On Wednesday, the 27th, exhibitors and individual registrants were treated to a drive along the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast as they traveled to Stennis Space Center and the INFINITY Science Center for a tour sponsored by Jacobs – FOSC.  Jacobs has the Facility Operating Services Contract (FOSC) at Stennis Space Center.

“Industry Days is an important event which fosters better communication between Stennis organizations and local companies.   It is a great way to help small businesses learn about business opportunities at Stennis and at the same time help Stennis get a better value for each dollar spent,” states Ken Human, NASA’s Associate Director at Stennis. “I was impressed by the number of companies that attended and the diversity of companies looking to do business at SSC.”

Following a VIP Reception at the IP Casino’s Tien – Asian Restaurant, sponsored by the Hancock County Development Commission, the event officially kicked off with the First Annual Stennis Business Consortium (SBC) Team-member Achievement Recognition (STAR) Awards Ceremony. The STAR Awards are given to agencies and companies exceeding the expectations of the SBC.  The SBC mission is to provide a mechanism for federal and state agencies, local institutions, and businesses to exchange information on small business goals, needed and emerging technologies, upcoming procurement requirements and opportunities, and issues dealing with existing procurement regulations. This is accomplished through regular meetings where specific information is exchanged based on funding cycles, forecasts of small business needs, as well as inquiries from small businesses. STAR awardees serve that mission to levels that serve as examples to others and help develop better competition on local contracts, help prepare a better contractor workforce to address local needs, and help develop strategic partnerships to expand the reach of local businesses.

In its inaugural year, STAR awards were given in four categories:  Federal Agency/Prime Contractor of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and Innovator of the Year. Michelle Stracener, the Small Business Specialist for NASA at Stennis accepted the STAR Award for NASA, the Federal Agency of the Year.  RBG Contractors, Inc. received the STAR Award for the Small Business of the Year. Since joining the SBC, RBG opened an office at Stennis and is pursuing a number of potential business opportunities.  Newcomer of the Year was awarded to Cardno ATC, who has not only identified opportunities for their company, but also identified a number of opportunities for small businesses, with other agencies and large contractors as well.  The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) at Stennis was awarded the Innovator of the Year STAR Award for the 45 patents NRL recently published or issued.  NRL focused efforts on identifying companies to license and commercialize these technologies.

Following the awards ceremony, a welcome reception for exhibitors and attendees alike was held throughout the exhibits area. Participants took advantage of this opportunity as the reception was an excellent time to make connections, share information, and learn about peers for possible future joint ventures or referrals.

The next day businesses and exhibitors continued to build on the momentum, taking advantage of educational opportunities by listening to the various agencies and companies presenting, in-person networking, and by visiting with exhibitors.

ABOVE: 2013 Stennis Industry Days networking opportunities.

Networking opportunities through informal connections took place between sessions and included access to the presenters for questions, idea sharing and an opportunity to expand on what was covered made for a great business to business event.

“This kind of direct marketing and promotion to your target audience, who are already in a learning, networking and development mode is virtually impossible to get in other ways,” states Professional Solutions Company president, Tim Brogdon.

Presentations from federal agencies, NASA, the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC), NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and supporting contractors filled the morning and afternoon with the business of Stennis Space Center and covered a variety of topics appropriate for small businesses.

“Stennis Industry Days was an excellent opportunity for GDIT to meet with our Federal Customers and to identify high quality small business partners.  We look forward to next year’s event,” stated Marla Helveston, Vice President, Civilian Solutions at General Dynamics Information Technology.

Along with the Hancock County Development Division and Jacobs-FOSC, other Partners through Sponsorship, including MSET, were the Mississippi Development Authority’s Minority and Small Business Development Division, AGJ Systems and Networks, Mississippi Power, Lockheed Martin, Ingalls Shipbuilding, and S&B Infrastructure.

“We are pleased that the attendance at this event exceeded our first Stennis Industry Day,” stated MSET President and CEO Charlie Beasley.  “Our goal is to inform as many small businesses as possible about the opportunities for work with the many federal agencies and large contractors at Stennis.  Stennis Industry Days serves as the Stennis Business Consortium’s main event and is used to educate companies about the different types of work performed at Stennis each and every day.”

The Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MSET) is located at the John C. Stennis Space Center. MSET is a private, non-profit 501(c) (3) organization that facilitates regional economic development by leveraging the resources of Stennis Space Center, the State, and the region to foster business opportunities among public and private entities. For more information on MSET, please visit www.mset.org.

For more information on the 2013 Stennis Industry Days visit: www.stennisindustrydays.com


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