Under-served Businesses Get a Step Up with Annual Small Business Industry Day
Vol.8 Issue 6

On Tuesday, July 26th, the FAA’s Acquisition’s Office hosted the 8th Annual Small and Disadvantaged Business Virtual Matchmaking Event for the second consecutive year on Zoom. Over 130 people joined in for the initial virtual welcome, whereas over 300 people participated in the follow-on one-on-one matchmaking sessions, which were scheduled every 15 minutes.

The Matchmaking sessions were coordinated on Microsoft Teams thanks to partners with GovMates. Gerald A. Lewis, Sr., Allen Bresley, and Lelanie Rivera from the Small Business Program Office (AAP-20) worked together to coordinate the online event. Marvin Poindexter, Director of Acquisition and Policy Oversight welcomed everyone in attendance. He expressed the significant impact that small businesses play in helping the FAA accomplish its mission. This past year, President Biden announced a new goal: to increase the share of government contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses by 50% by FY 2025.

This unprecedented goal translates to an additional $100B to Small Disadvantaged Businesses over the next five years. There is a growing interest to remove business barriers faced by under-served individuals and communities (minority owned, disabled, veteran, women-owned, etc.). The President’s Management Agenda states, "By creating more opportunities for all types of business and under-served entrepreneurs to compete for Federal contracts, the Federal marketplace can serve as a platform to create a more equitable economy." All federal agencies are to work toward increasing transparency around future contracting opportunities, ensuring that more small businesses will have the opportunity to compete and enter the federal marketplace.

Katie Bilek, Co-founder of GovMates who assisted with the small business networking and matchmaking activities.
Gerald A. Lewis, Sr. of the FAA Small Business Development Group presents during the Annual Small Business Industry Day.

Kevin O’Connor, Deputy Director of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center provided opening remarks, sharing that the Aeronautical Center is a proud contractor of small, disadvantaged businesses. The Aeronautical Center has a revenue stream of just under $1B, and the missions and programs that the Aeronautical Center serves are both diverse and national in scope. O’Connor stated, "Over half of the funding for the Center does not come through a traditional appropriations process. We have federal customers who receive their own appropriations and they, in turn, choose to buy products and services from our organizations. So, this requires us to be competitive in all that we do, and it also allows us to grow our business." Much of the procurement and contracting activities that the Aeronautical Center hosts is in the form of support services, National Airspace System activities, construction and renovation, security, facility maintenance and human factors research.

Gerald A. Lewis, Sr., the MMAC Small Business Liaison, served as the Master of Ceremony for the kick-off session, and shared the purpose and vision for the event: "This year’s MMAC small business outreach and engagement event once again targeted Small & Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) and to further the current Administration’s initiatives, and goals for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity as it relates to under-utilized and under-served communities in this country. The FAA has increased small business outreach, along with utilizing the flexibility available to the agency through its Acquisition Management System (AMS) to expand business opportunities for SDBs, while at the same time continuing to meet all of our small business goals."

The FAA handles 16,700 contractual actions for more than $4.8B in goods and services. Small businesses are critical to helping the FAA and the Aeronautical Center provide the safest, most efficient and responsive aerospace system in the world.

During this three-and-half hour event, matchmaking one-on-one activities were held in 15-minute increments, connecting over 300 contractors (sellers) with approximately 33 different federal organizations (buyers). Organizations from the Aeronautical Center that participated included: The FAA Academy, Acquisition Services and Franchise Acquisitions Division, Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Enterprise Services Center, Office of Information Technology, Logistics Center, Regional Acquisitions Division, DOT’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, Acquisition Policy and Oversight, and the Small Business Development Program. The event also hosted a virtual networking session for those in-between times when participants were not in a matchmaking session.

The final tally (summary) for the 7/26/22 event was as follows:

  • 450, Small Businesses Registered
  • 290, Individual Matchmaking Sessions
  • 181, Small Business Sellers

Small business socio-economic breakdown of prospective sellers was as follows:

  • Small Disadvantage Veteran Owned Small Business: 43
  • Women Owned Small Business: 68
  • 8(a)/Small Disadvantaged Business: 54
  • Historically Underutilized Business Zone: 39

A special Thanks to Marvin Poindexter, Kevin O’Connor, and Laura Shepherd-Madsen (Communications Program Specialist, AMC-3), and to our small business partners: Stephanie, Katie, and Hannah over at Govmates.

To provide air traffic control and regulatory functions, the FAA relies on equipment, systems, supplies, services, and construction provided by commercial, educational, and non-profit businesses, organizations, and individuals; a perfect opportunity for small businesses to compete for services in the federal marketplace.

Further, a big "Thank You" to my colleague (and partner) Lelanie Rivera (Small Business Liaison for the FAA Western Service Area), Allen Bresley, FAA Small Business Program Manager (AAP-20), the entire AAP-20 Team, and all of our FAA/DOT Representatives and Program Organizations for their service and support:

The overwhelming success of participation with this year’s event has prompted event organizers to try planning an in-person event for 2023, pending global health crisis restrictions. Feedback received from the event has been outstanding.

There are a variety of ways to do business with the FAA as opportunities are listed on www.SAM.gov. Strategic sourcing for equipment and supplies can be found through the Electronic Federal Aviation Administration Accelerated and Simplified Tasks (eFAST), there is also the FAA’s Research Grants Program, and the FAA purchase card is an internationally accepted card, which is designed to streamline purchases and reduce procurement time and processing costs.

More information about the FAA’s Small Business Office

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