VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Vandenberg Air Force Base hosted a small business conference at the Pacific Coast Club March 21 and 22 as an outreach to small businesses with or in search of contracts with the base or the Air Force.
More than 300 people attended the two-day conference for the opportunity to network, gather information and promote products and services, to benefit from Vandenberg's objective to support small business.
"The Air Force wants to support the industrial base of the nation, and that is small business," said Dee Perry, small business program manager for the 30th Space Wing.
Federal agencies like the Air Force reserve contracts exclusively for small businesses, in accordance with the Small Business Act. The Small Business Agency advocates for 23 percent of the annual federal budget to go to small, disadvantaged and women-owned businesses in an effort to guarantee their survival.
"If we don't support them, they will fold," Mrs. Perry said, "and monopolies are not healthy for the nation."
This year marks the second in a row Mrs. Perry has planned and carried out the conference, transforming the PCC ballrooms into a 68-table educational symposium on the first day. Representatives from 98 small businesses from 12 states marketed themselves with a variety of services like computer supplies and chemicals, engineering and planning services, and training opportunities.
On the second day, representatives attended up to five of 20 different conference and concurrent educational workshops that covered business topics such as federal contract labor standards, environmental contracting and forming business alliances.
"This aspect of the conference was reminiscent of high school, with five 45-minute sessions of educational seminars that each person could attend," Mrs. Perry said.
With a feedback portion that preceded the conference wrap-up, suggestions of what to keep and how to improve the conference flowed in to prepare for next year to fine tune and perfect what Mrs. Perry called a very successful conference, due in part to the support of wing leadership. Top level buy-in was noticed and appreciated by the attendants as well, who said the presence of the leadership showed a commitment to the success and furtherment of small business goals.
The subject for Vandenberg's 2008 small business conference is set to focus on growing and developing small businesses. For more information about small businesses at Vandenberg, contact the Small Business Administration Procurement Center Representative at 605-7265 or e-mail at email@example.com