MIST Sessions could open doors to Federal Contracts for Small Business

Original Article: MS Business Journal

Small business owners who want to tap into government contracting may be put off by the rules and red tape that confront them. Even those who have experience in the competitive contracting arena can be confounded by the layers of regulations.

Fortunately for business owners who want to get work from the government now have the new Marine Industries Science & Technology or MIST cluster to help. MIST assists these businesses in getting to information about contracts that’s critical to compete.

The Mississippi Enterprise for Technology and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Business & Innovation Assistance Center have begun a series of small business summits at Stennis Space Center to assist in the contracting process. The emphasis will be on opportunities offered by government agencies and large companies that are marine-related.

“All of the data is public information but it’s hard to ferret it all out so that companies can be ready when they have to write proposals,” said Laurie Jugan,  MSET program coordinator. “Having a nonprofit like MSET and an organization like MIST be able to collect the data makes all the difference in the world.”

The first quarterly summit was held Jan. 15 and about 70 people participated. The daylong meeting included one-on-one sessions with Navy representatives and their large contractors and presentations on opportunities the cluster is expected to generate.

The NAVY was first on the summit schedule because Stennis is home to the largest concentration of oceanographers in the world. But the Navy is only one part of the space center’s marine related activities. There’s also NASA, NOAA and EPA in addition to other federal agencies, state and university missions that are involved in marine science and technology missions.

“We’re hoping to have this presentation in Louisiana, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle to reach as many people as we can who might be interested in the cluster,” said Jugan.

The coastal areas of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have traditionally been home to marine-related activities such as commercial and recreational fishing, shipbuilding and energy ventures. The MIST cluster was formed as a way to coordinate the all of the marine related organizations and industries in the region to foster growth.

MIST is funded by a Small Business Administrative competitive contract through USM to provide support to the marine cluster in the Stennis region. First year funding is $524,000. There are four one-year performance-based options on a downward sliding scale as the cluster becomes sustainable.

For more information about the Marine Industries Science & Technology Cluster at Stennis Space Center, call MSET’s Laurie Jugan at 228-688-1192 or USM’s Joe Graben at 228-688-2280 or visit www.mistcluster.org.