NORCO, Calif. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's Director of Small Business Programs addressed nearly 250 defense industry professionals, offering participants details on planned future contracts during Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona's Industry Day in Corona, California, June 6.
"We really want people to think of small businesses as a strategic advantage to help modernize our maritime capabilities and help us accomplish our mission," said Emily Harman, U.S. Navy director of Small Business Programs, told the crowd. She added that her office's motto, "small business - the first option," creates opportunities for small businesses to provide products and services to warfighters.
The face-to-face setting also provided a forum for networking with key Corona subject matter experts and decision-makers, while fostering industry partnerships among highly capable businesses. Capt. Steve Murray, the warfare center's commanding officer, kicked off the meeting with a welcome address and command mission overview.
As a Pentagon partner, the Riverside Community College District Procurement Assistance Center sponsored the forum, working with Corona's Deputy for Small Business, Dan Deconzo to develop the program.
"Our Industry Day helps show how we do business, what our needs are, and ultimately increases competition and reduces acquisition lead time," said Deconzo. "It also informs the community about our technical capabilities and improves communication with local businesses that can help us execute our mission to support the warfighter and the Navy."
Harman emphasized Corona is involved "up front and early" in the procurement process and "that's where the entire Department of the Navy needs to be. We want to influence change and create a culture of small business inclusiveness across the Department of the Navy."
Harman sees the small business outreach as more than just a way of meeting a goal. It's a way to improve national security.
"We need to get innovative products and services out to the fleet," she said. "I know small businesses can bring that,"
Harman told the audience that acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley directed (in a 2015 memo) that all acquisition deputy program managers need to be an advocate for small business and strengthen the Department's commitment to small business outreach, tapping the innovation, agility and responsiveness that small businesses bring to the fight.
This focus has already reaped rewards for the Department of the Navy, said Harman, which received the Defense Department's Vanguard Award in April for exceptional commitment to small business programs for 2016.
Harman said the department will continue its small business emphasis, citing a professional development strategy to further develop the corporate competency of certified small business professionals, to make it easier for industry to contract with the Navy and Marine Corps as prime or sub-contractors - ultimately helping Sailors and Marines get their mission done.
The Navy's strategic effects are seen in efforts like Corona's industry day, which has seen significant growth in the last several years. Companies traveled from San Diego, Los Angeles and California's central coast to attend.
"I can really tell you are looking for small businesses, and I saw that difference today," Harman told the Corona team following the event. "Having this many people come is really good, and having all these technical folks here really means a lot. I did see a lot of connection being made with large and small businesses. Great job!"
NSWC Corona helps warfighters train, fight and win by using measurement, analysis and independent assessment. As one of the largest employers in Riverside County headquartered in Norco, NSWC Corona employs more than 3,100 personnel worldwide and contributes more than $300 million annually to the regional economy.
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