Experts share tips on how to do business with the military

The significant military presence in Maryland and projected growth at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Ft. Meade and 15 other military installations in our state will generate significant defense-related business opportunities, particularly in the area of research and development. The question on the minds of many in the private-sector is: how can Maryland businesses that aren’t currently defense contractors tap into these opportunities?

“People are forever coming in and saying ‘how do we take advantage of the largesse that is the expansion of things military in Maryland?’ And we tell them it’s all about networking – getting to know people, getting to know issues. Just stay engaged,” says General Mike Hayes, director of Maryland’s Office of Military and Federal Affairs.

Hayes and contracting experts from the private sector and federal government offered tips to more than 70 business executives who attended the Greater Baltimore Committee’s October 4 workshop, “BRAC and Government Contracting – How to Get Your Foot in the Door.”

Hayes suggests starting by learning the military and federal procurement systems and, if you’re a small business, finding a partner who is a prime contractor.

The best path for small businesses to federal contracting opportunities is through partnering, which can be achieved by “constant networking and making the big guys, who are well-staffed to compete, aware of your capabilities,” says Hayes.

Hayes recommended that businesses interested in defense-related opportunities obtain the “Business Resources Guide 2010 – Contracting with Maryland’s Federal Facilities,” recently published by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The booklet offers comprehensive information on topics including the federal procurement process, how to identify the right contacts at federal installations, how to find opportunities that fit your business, and how to prepare proposals.

Following are links to presentations on doing business with the military offered by other speakers at the GBC’s October 4 government contracting workshop:

Jill McClune, vice president, contracts and compliance, Smiths Detection, Inc.
Courtney Fletcher, facility security officer, Booz Allen Hamilton
Amanda Johnston, industrial security specialist, Defense Security Service

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