Speak to the Experts: Where Do You Go to Find Government Contracts? March 3, 2021 | 9:00am-4:00pm

The Michigan Defense Center (MDC) and Upper Peninsula Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) hosted an all-day virtual conference to assist small and medium sized Michigan companies realize their potential!

This webinar was developed after the Michigan Defense Center held their Small and Minority-owned Business Leader Roundtable in September 2020. Participating partners at the Upper Peninsula SBDC reached out to the MDC about holding a webinar to educate Northern Michigan companies on the opportunities and benefits of defense contracting and how to get started.  Due to the virtual platforms offered these days, over 100 Michigan companies from around the state attended.

The event provided an overview of the organizations and resources available to help small businesses with government contracting, as well as teach successful strategies from the event’s Small Business Owner’s Panel made up of Michigan companies that currently hold defense contracts.

Information on advantages for 8A and disadvantaged or minority-owned companies were also discussed.

Thank you to Senator Gary Peters, Senate Armed Services Committee Member and Chairman DHS and Government Affairs for his opening remarks and to Congressman Jack Bergman, House Armed Services Committee for attending and addressing attendees.

A recording of the conference can be found here after March 4, 2020.

Michigan Defense Center – Introduction to Defense Contracting
Vicki Selva, Executive Director MDC 
The MDC is the state’s lead voice on Michigan’s Defense, Defense Aerospace and Homeland Security economy, and is a liaison between the state and defense interests in the government, industry, academia, and the defense community.
Vicki shared why Michigan businesses should get into defense contracting and the activities and resources the MDC offers to be successful in the defense supply chain.

SBDC: Importance of Operational and Financial Controls When Contracting with the Government
Laura Marohnic, Michigan SBDC and Lance Wolfe, Michigan SBDC
Laura and Lance set the expectations for referrals through the process. 

PTAC and SAM.gov (System for Award Management) Registration, Bid Match
Leanne Kachmarsky, Networks Northwest and Cathy Fairbanks, Networks Northwest
The mission of the statewide network of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) in Michigan is to achieve government contracting success for clients through the connection of educational resources, advanced-level counseling engagements, and network/resource introductions. The PTAC staff are subject-matter experts on procurement opportunities and contracting activities, providing the most current and relevant information available. The PTAC will provide insight into the research process and coach you in the use of the information obtained.  

Michigan Defense Center – Bid Targeting System (BTS), Proposal Writing Services (PWS) Grant Program and Michigan Defense CyberSmart: a cybersecurity compliance program
Dustin Frigy, Program Manager – Business Resources
Dustin explained how the Bid Targeting System (BTS) is an online database that is free to Michigan companies, and how it can be used to help identify suitable federal contracting opportunities, show what federal and state contracting officers consider a company’s strengths and weaknesses, and what a company can do to be more competitive. Dustin also discussed the PWS grant that the Michigan Defense Center offers to help offset the cost of engaging a pre-qualified bid-writing firm for a company’s proposal. 
New this month and exclusive to Michigan, Dustin announced the MDC’s Michigan Defense CyberSmart Cybersecurity Compliance Program and how it will benefit Michigan companies in the defense supply chain.

Contractor Panel
The contractor panel consisted of two current Michigan-owned businesses that are successfully doing business with the federal government: Northern Wings Repair, Newberry, MI and JetCo Solutions, Grand Rapids, MI.
The contractors were asked questions like, How did you get involved in federal contacting, and what was the process like for you to win your first federal contract? And, What other advice or best practices do you recommend for a company that wants to get into defense contracting?

Background on the contractor panelists:
Northern Wings Repair, Newberry, MI
Northern Wings began in 2001, with only two employees in a pole barn located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The company started as an FAA certificated Repair Station specializing in the repair and overhaul of aircraft brakes and landing gear components. After sustained growth, 2007 Northern Wings moved to a purpose built 13,000 square foot facility in 2007. Today, the company is an AS9100 certified aerospace manufacturer and stocking distributor providing materials and parts for commercial and military aircraft programs for customers including NASA, Boeing Aerospace, DLA, L-3 Technologies, Sierra Nevada Corporation, the U.S Park Service, the Department of Homeland Security and others. Northern Wings is a SDVOB Certified, HUBZone Certified, and Native American Owned company.

Jon Tellier, JetCo Solutions, Grand Rapids, MI
Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Jon Tellier is the President at JetCo Solutions. JetCo Solutions is a veteran-owned small business that helps clients sell to all levels of government, offering services that cover the entire government sales and marketing lifecycle, including business development, and proposal writing and management. Collectively, JetCo Solutions’ clients have received more than $4 billion in contract awards with 278 different local, state, and federal defense agencies. 98% of these wins are for small business clients.

Small Business, Big Threat…Cyber Security Awareness
Scott Tabor, Michigan SBDC
Scott stressed that even small businesses are at risk of cyberattacks. In fact, a small business is more vulnerable in many ways. His workshop was designed for small business owners with little to no technology background assumed.
His timely discussion included the most common areas for concern and action for small business owners:
• Cyber Security Best Practices
• Protecting Your Company Information
• What to do if your company has been breached
• Password Practices
• Physical Security
• Buying and Selling Online
• Physical Security
• Mobile Security

Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) – Core Services with ITAR and Cyber Security Audit Tools for Government Contractors
Kristin Smith, MMTC Regional Director and Jeff Williams, MMTC Program Manager – Cyber Security
MMTC offers personalized consulting services that enable Michigan manufacturers to work smarter, compete and prosper. The center works to develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, assist with navigating through governmental regulations, promote company-wide operational excellence and fosters creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability.

SBA: Federal Certifications Focus: 8(a) Business Development Program, HUBZone, Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned
Tom Vargo, SBA Lead Business Opportunity Specialist
Tom discussed how more Michigan Small and Minority Businesses can reap the benefits of winning federal contracts.
“Government contracts are a tremendous financial opportunity for small businesses. The U.S. government is the largest customer in the world. It buys all types of products and services — in both large and small quantities — and it’s required by law to consider buying from small and minority businesses.”    –Small Business Association

-Diversify your portfolio to reduce risk and weather economic downturns
-Create opportunities for steady work and revenue
-Defense, defense aerospace and homeland security cross over into every industry
-Grow your business
-Fulfill DoD and DHS contract needs

The MDC would like to thank the Upper Peninsula SBDC and all of our partners for making this event successful! We would also like to thank the offices of U.S. Senator Gary Peters and U.S. Representative Jack Bergman for providing opening remarks for this event. We appreciate your continuous support!