Vicki Selva, VMDEX Event Chairperson, NDIA Board Director
National Defense Industrial Association Michigan (NDIA-Michigan) 
(586) 243-6810   

May 22, 2020

NDIA-MI Virtual Michigan Defense Exposition
In the face of adversity, MDEX goes Virtual!

STERLING HEIGHTS, MICHIGAN – For the past eleven years, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) of Michigan has hosted the Michigan Defense Exposition (MDEX) in Macomb County Michigan. MDEX 2020 was the first year this exposition partnered with all of the organizations at the Detroit Arsenal to create the Detroit Arsenal Opportunities Conference Program Briefings with the objective of joining the U.S. Army with industry to share opportunities and solutions for the nation’s security.  By early March, this event, conceived and managed by an all-volunteer committee, and slated for May 20-21, had over 100 exhibitors and 60 Army presenters and was on track to sell out with 2,000 attendees expected. 

By the end of April, it became clear that the Covid crisis that hit Michigan particularly hard, was not going to allow the live show as planned. The show and the opportunities it would provide to business and the U.S. Army was headed for cancellation. 

However, the NDIA MDEX committee of volunteers took a path different than other large events and decided to go virtual! Dubbed V-MDEX, NDIA Michigan hoped that a virtual platform would allow companies from Michigan and from around the nation to continue to do business, learn about the needs of the army and get face time with DoD buyers. 

The event was held May 20 and 21. Access was gained through the event website, and was free to attend.   

The entire platform was built and the show was moved to its new “venue” in 3 weeks, including an all new marketing plan.   

Over 6,500 visitors attended the two-day virtual event.   

“It was a challenge both logistically and technologically to pull this off, and with a volunteer team, but, the talent in Michigan allowed us to do it.” Said, Vicki Selva, MDEX 2020 Event Chairperson and Executive Director of the Michigan Defense Center, the state of Michigan’s defense office. “I felt it was imperative that we attempt it and not just scrap the event, particularly in this economy so ravaged by the Covid crisis. The companies that attended, exhibited and sponsored needed the information provided by the Army, the networking connections and the comradery to protect and grow their businesses after the financial and personal hit dealt by the virus.”

  • 60 presentations and panels from every buying unit at the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal announced the programs and RFP’s that will be posted over the next few years. The entire show was live streamed through the computers of the attendees.
  • In addition to the Army, remarks were made by Senator Gary Peters (Senate Armed Services-MI) and Representative Elissa Slotkin (House Armed Service-MI).
  • 58 event exhibitors and 9 event sponsors.  Exhibitors ranged from large businesses like General Dynamics Land Systems, to small businesses like Suburban Bolt & Supply. 
  • One unique feature of the event was the “Networking Lounge” that allowed attendees to enter a moderated live video conference where Army presenters joined after their presentations to take questions and engage with industry on the spot and where companies shared information, networked and discussed success and challenges in doing federal contracting and the current business climate.

“MDEX 2020’s online platform provided opportunities for small businesses like Suburban Bolt and Supply, to virtually connect and network with folks in the Defense Industry with more intent and using less company resources. We’re already looking forward to MDEX 2021!” Nikki Gordon, Director of Marketing at Suburban Bolt and Supply.

All of the event’s content will be available at after May 26, in the Library, registration will be required.