HONOLULU, Hawaii --
By Bryanna R. Poulin
Honolulu District Public Affairs Office
HONOLULU, Hawaii--The Honolulu District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Small Business Office (SBO) was one of several government agencies looking to discuss contracting opportunities to small businesses looking to start or expand opportunities as a government contractor June 18, 2019, at the 17th Annual Hawaii Small Business Forum held at the Honolulu Country Club.
"The Honolulu District demonstrates an unwavering commitment to small business awareness, outreach, and support as an integral part of the overall USACE mission," Honolulu District SBO Chief Regina Pasqualucci said. "The event provides businesses direct access to those who are most knowledgeable about the district's operations, missions, and future requirement affecting businesses."
The forum offered small business owners a unique chance to connect with federal agencies and discuss specific projects and capabilities. In support of the Department of Defense (DOD) emphasis on improving small business opportunities, the Corps' priority is educating and engaging small businesses. Each year the District's SBO participates in small business events, such as industry days, open houses, small business procurement conferences, and matchmaking events.
As America's Engineers in the Pacific, Honolulu District’s construction projects span across five time zones and approximately 12 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. Together with both large and small firms, Honolulu District facilitates and completes projects such as quarters for single Soldiers to service clubs and fitness centers, runways and health care facilities.
"Honolulu District contributes to diversity, competition, economic growth, and our national security by building and preserving the small business industrial base in support of the mission," Honolulu District Commander Kathryn Sanborn said at the forum during her presentation about small businesses working with the District.
As the morning began, business firms not only heard about the Districts upcoming civil and public works opportunities like mechanical dredging in Honolulu Harbor or reconstruction of Kunia's water supply reservoirs but also learned about the projects related to disaster and flood control.
"There are supplemental appropriations for flood control and other disaster-related projects," Sanborn said. "Together the District and non-federal sponsor are currently working on a partnership agreement for the $345 million Ala Wai Flood Risk Management Projects, which will have about 11 separate projects requiring small business components."
The District has a longstanding history of utilizing small businesses as a valued source of skills supporting national security. Besides improving the economy, projects critical to the District's mission completed by using small business.
"The work we offer small businesses directly affects the recovery of our nation," Sanborn concluded. "A weakened economy affects our nation's strength, and as a result, at the highest levels of government, there is a significant focus on maximizing contract opportunities for small business."
Echoing the commander's comments, Pasqualucci added, "The pillars of national security are economic security and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite said it best by saying, 'small businesses are the economic engine driving the American economy."
Small business and government agency matchmaking highlighted the forums kicked off afternoon session. Similar to speed dating, the matchmaking gives firms 10 minutes to ask federal agencies questions - getting a clear overview of the government contracting process to help better understand the requirements involved in a relationship with the federal government
"We (Honolulu District) participate in the matchmaking event so small businesses can have face-to-face meetings with the Honolulu District's Small Business Programs Chief," Pasqualucci said.
For some small businesses, the forum is the first time learning about the commitment and the services the District provide.
"Honolulu District Small Business Office provided information about upcoming contract opportunities for businesses looking to start or expand their work for the Honolulu District," Pasqualucci said during the matchmaking event. "Learning about the Honolulu District's mission and the forecasted projects allows businesses a better understanding of prime and subcontracting opportunities."
One of the most direct ways the District encourages and helps small businesses is providing a level playing field by limiting competition of certain contracts to small businesses through "small business set-asides," assisting small companies to compete for and win federal contracts.
"One of the essential services I offer is I set aside as many projects as possible for small business contracts by working together with District project managers and contracting officers," Pasqualucci said.
Fostering long-term business relationships with large companies is essential to the Honolulu District mission not only because small firms growing to fast into a large company sometimes find challenges but also the District's large partners can help small and medium-sized businesses navigate the rapid growth and continue to thrive. Fortunately, if there are no advantages to being a certified small bossiness, then the Mentor-Protégé program is available to motivate and encourage large companies to provide mutually beneficial developmental support to small companies.
"Through formal and informal mentoring arrangements the District encourages mentoring between large and small firms, Pasqualucci said.
Finally, if a small business is not ready for a prime contract, subcontracting is a profitable alternative experience allowing the opportunity for a small business to grow and build a relationship with large companies.
"Several large companies attending the event were looking for small businesses to subcontract with or partner," Pasqualucci concluded. "When an award for a large project goes to a large business, they (large companies) are required to subcontract a certain percentage of the total contract value to small business."
For more information on contracting opportunities, please visit https://go.usa.gov/xykCm