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NEWS | March 7, 2024

AMCOM industry event connects small businesses with prime contractors

By Michelle L. Gordon

The Aviation and Missile Command hosted the Team Redstone Advance Planning Briefings to Industry March 5-7 on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, and for the first time since 2020, the event did not include a virtual option. 

AMCOM welcomed more than 600 registered attendees to the annual event. Organizer and Ombudsman Terri Schwierling said APBI is a forum for information exchange and discussions, which are best conducted face-to-face. 

“This event provides small and large businesses an opportunity to hear what’s coming up regarding technology and potential contracts,” she said. “They can engage in networking discussions and understand where the Army is going.”

Schwierling said that in addition to the formal presentations and informal networking, small business attendees also benefit significantly from the matchmaking sessions. 

Similar in concept to speed dating, ABPI matchmaking facilitates connections and relationships by pairing small businesses with large corporations in 10-minute increments. Due to its popularity, this year’s event included 50% more opportunities, with the time block expanding from four hours to six.

AMCOM Office of Small Business Programs Outreach Coordinator Anntronett Washington said the 10-minute time slots allow small businesses to learn how to do business with the larger prime contractors.

“This year, we've got 14 prime contractors,” Washington said. “And outside of APBI, many of these businesses would never have an opportunity to speak to these large businesses one-on-one and let them know that they exist and what type of work they do.”

Washington said the matchmaking sessions are traditionally a mix of new small businesses seeking guidance on how to work with the U.S. Army and seasoned small businesses that either want to ensure they stay up-to-date or that have worked with other federal agencies and now wish to widen their spectrum to work with the Army.

This year marked the fourth ABPI matchmaking event Washington coordinated. She said that as much as she appreciates technology, she appreciates the in-person sessions much more due to the logistical and technical difficulties of coordinating virtual rooms. However, regardless of the format, she said APBI is a critical event for her office, and the small business owners are grateful for the matchmaking sessions.

“There isn’t a one-stop shop where you can get all the information you need,” she said. “By having the matchmaking event, we are essentially creating that one-stop shop, so even if they cannot get an appointment with an agency, they can at least get the business card, and now they have a point of contact.”

Outside of APBI, the Office of Small Business Programs provides assistance year-round. Washington said she conducts one-on-one compatibility briefings about working with AMCOM. 

“Our primary function is ensuring that small businesses get fair opportunities on government contracts,” she said. “We're reviewing forms and sitting on boards and ensuring the due diligence is being done. I really want the small businesses to know that we are here to help them, and if there is something that we don't know or don't have, we'll do the best we can to get them connected with the right people.”