Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Southeast hosted its Industry Engagement Day event virtually from the Adam W. Herbert University Center located at the University of North Florida (UNF) on March 31, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding COVID-19.
The command’s first virtual industry engagement event was streamed live providing an effective venue for NAVFAC Southeast to discuss its mission, goals, and contracting opportunities with industry professionals around the country.
"It is very important for us as a command to remain engaged with our industry partners, especially during the pandemic," said NAVFAC Southeast Commanding Officer Capt. Jorge Cuadros. "Building strong relationships with industry helps us overcome any challenge, and more importantly, allows us to continue to provide outstanding infrastructure support to our nation’s Warfighter."
The event allowed contractors to gain a better understanding of NAVFAC Southeast as an organization, and the products and services they provide to the Navy. It also provided attendees the opportunity to ask questions directly through the virtual chat function to command leadership and subject matter experts.
"Industry day events help breakdown communication barriers between industry and the government," said NAVFAC Southeast Assistant Deputy Director for Small Business John Bazylewicz. "It assists the command in being more innovative and helps contractors get information they may need outside of the normal procurement process."
Three hundred participants registered for the event, which was the maximum number allowed utilizing the chosen virtual environment. This year’s attendance was nearly double when compared to attendance levels for in-person events held in the past.
The schedule consisted of morning presentations from command business and support line leaders and the afternoon panel sessions allowed attendees to engage directly with command representatives regarding various types of contracting opportunities available within NAVFAC Southeast. Areas included were, Facility Support Contracting (FSC), Base Operations Support (BOS), Environmental, Architecture and Engineering (A&E), Asset Management, and Construction.
"The bottom line is, it’s about engagement," said NAVFAC Southeast Executive Officer Capt. Tom Bestafka. "Especially with the pandemic, this is an opportunity for the command, in a virtual environment, to engage with our industry base, and allow them the ability to communicate their questions and concerns to us."
Joseph Angell, Federal Program Manager for Wiley Wilson Architecture and Engineering, found out about the event through the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME).
Angell applauded the command’s efforts to communicate with industry during the pandemic and plans on participating in future events, whether virtual or in-person.
"I miss the face-to-face conversations that lead to follow on discussions," said Angell. "I always prefer in-person events, but virtual events, such as this one, are getting better at communicating with industry professionals."
Despite not having the ability to interact directly with contractors and build a rapport typical at in-person events, Bazylewicz explained that the command is looking into hosting more virtual events in the future that would be tailored to industry specific topics of interest.
"Judging by the overwhelming response and participation by industry to attend this event, I consider it a success," said Bazylewicz. "It was a challenge to plan the event, but we will continue to conduct virtual events until we can safely return to in-person events so that we can remain engaged with our industry partners."
Industry representatives who were not able to attend are encouraged to visit the NAVFAC Southeast website to watch a video replay of the entire event, view the presentation in PDF format, and find a current contractor directory: https://www.navfac.navy.mil/navfac_worldwide/atlantic/fecs/southeast/about_us/cntr_partner/virtual_industry_engagement_day.html
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