Kennedy Hosts Expo for Underutilized Businesses
NASA's Kennedy Space Center continues to provide a major boost to the Florida and local economies. While contracts with major corporations often receive the highest visibility, the space agency also places emphasis on working with all small businesses, including outreach to service disabled, woman-owned and firms in Historically Underutilized Businesses Zones, or HUBZones.
To further this effort, Kennedy hosted a HUBZone Industry Day and Expo 2012 on Oct. 16 at Port Canaveral, Fla. The event provided an opportunity for business leaders interested in government contracting opportunities to see what local and national vendors have to offer.
"The HUBZone program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities," the Small Business Administration states on its web site. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone. The company also must maintain a "principal office" in one of these specially designated areas.
According to Kennedy Small Business Specialist Larry Third, it is important to reach out to underutilized businesses.
"All small businesses are important," Third said. "For the fiscal year just completed (2012), Kennedy met all its goals; awarding over $300 million worth of contracts with small businesses.”
Kennedy's annual report for fiscal year 2011 noted that NASA spending contributes more than $1.7 billion to the Florida economy.
Third explains there is room for improvement in certain socioeconomic categories.
"So we want to give small businesses in those categories more opportunities through events such as our HUBZone Industry Day and Expo," he said.
Kennedy's Director Bob Cabana, underscored the value of small businesses during opening ceremonies.
"Small businesses are a key part of what we do at the Kennedy Space Center," he said. "In 2011 Kennedy contracted $247 million directly with small businesses. In fiscal year 2012, the year just finished up, that number increased to $305 million."
Cabana noted that NASA now is setting its sight on exploring beyond low-Earth orbit and going further than ever before.
"To support the NASA mission, KSC is transforming from a traditional, one-system launch complex to a state-of-the-art, multiuser launch complex supporting both government and commercial cargo and crew missions to space," Cabana said. "We will continue to foster new relationships with the small business community."
Also participating in the opening ceremonies were U. S. Congressman Bill Posey, NASA Chief of Staff David Radzanowski, NASA Associate Administrator for the Office of Small Business Programs Glenn Delgado, Kennedy Associate Director Kelvin Manning, Vice Commander for the 45th Space Wing Col. Rory Welch, and Senior Director of Business Development for the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast Gregory Weiner.
The annual trade show was sponsored by Kennedy's Prime Contractor Board, the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing and the Canaveral Port Authority. The event featured about 175 large and small businesses and government exhibitors from Brevard County and across the nation.
"The outreach event gives all small businesses, including HUBZone businesses an opportunity to meet and talk with NASA prime contractors, contracting officers and small business specialists in a one-stop-shopping set-up," said Third.
NASA's Central Industry Assistance Office works with the contractor board to help small businesses learn how to navigate in the world of government contracting.
"We had 135 exhibitors signed up," said Third. "Last year we had over 500 people attend the Expo. This year we exceeded that number."
Exhibitors included vendors from product and service areas, such as engineering services, computer technology, communication equipment and services, and construction and safety products. Representatives from NASA, the 45th Space Wing, prime contractors, and many other agencies and organizations provided information and answered questions.
"NASA wants to place additional emphasis on reaching Service Disabled Veteran Owned, Woman-owned, and HUBZone small businesses," Third said. "This is the first year the focus of the event has been specifically on HUBZones. We want HUBZone businesses to have more opportunities to bid on direct contracts and to be subcontractors on the large business contracts."
Bob Granath NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center