Navy workshop to help connect local companies with millions in government contracts

Memphis Business Journal
Michelle Corbet

The U.S. Navy’s head of small business development is coming to Memphis to help local businesses land big government contracts.

Memphis’ Navy Week will be the first for the Department of the Navy Office of Small Business Programs, which helps connect small, independent businesses with U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps contract opportunities.

Thursday, May 11, Emily Harman, director of the Department of the Navy Office of Small Business Programs, will travel from Washington, D.C., to Memphis to lead a two-hour small business development workshop.

“If people want to support their country or support the Navy, they can do it by being a civilian working for the Navy, like me; they could join the Navy; or they could be a contractor supporting the Department of the Navy,” Harman said. 

While in Memphis, Harman is hoping to connect with local companies and small businesses who may not be aware of the contracting opportunities available through the Department of Defense.

In fiscal year 2016, the Department of the Navy, which includes the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, awarded more than $65 million in contracts to small businesses in the state of Tennessee. More than $24 million of those contracts went to small businesses located in the City of Memphis. 

Overall, the Navy awarded about $137 million in contracts to Tennessee businesses both large and small in 2016.

During her workshop, Harman is going to go over the Office of Small Business Programs’ focus areas, where the Navy and Marine Corps spend their money and what they buy.

“If they are interested in becoming a subcontractor or a prime, we’re going to go over some of the resources available,” Harman said.

It can sometimes be confusing to do business with the Department of the Navy because it has 10 different commands who buy services.

“For example, if I am a contractor who paves runways for aircraft, I might think I should go the Naval Air Systems Command because they buy airplanes, but really I should go to the Facilities Engineering Command, because they buy runway-type services,” Harman explained.

Historically, the top small business industries in Memphis that have secured contracts with the Navy are facilities support services, construction and site preparation.

“These are the things we have been buying, but we may find companies that are located in Tennessee that could provide other kinds of services,” Harman said. “We don’t know. This is the first time we’ve participated in Navy Week.”

The Office of Small Business Programs could potentially make an appearance during Navy Week in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis/St. Paul after their participation in Memphis. 

“We’re going to see how it goes with Memphis, then make the decision on how to best support the Navy Weeks based on the resources we have available, but there’s definitely a request from our chief of naval information office that we attend based on questions they have received at past [Navy Week] events,” Harman said.

The top 10 small business industries for overall Department of the Navy contracts within a 50-mile radius of Memphis include:

* Facilities support services
* Commercial and institutional building construction
* Site preparation contractors
* Computer facilities management services
* All other professional, scientific and technical services
* Engineering services
* Computer systems design services
* All other miscellaneous chemical product and preparation manufacturing
* Software publishers
* Landscape services

What: Small Business Workshop
Who: Emily Harman, director of the Department of the Navy Office of Small Business Programs
When: Thursday, May 11, 8-10 a.m.
Where: Greater Memphis Chamber, 22 N. Front St., Suite 200