News: Arizona/Nevada Area Office hosts Business Opportunities Open House
PHOENIX - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District Arizona/Nevada Area Office hosted its first Business Opportunities Open House at its downtown office Jan. 29.
The event consisted of a morning session and an afternoon session. The event was an open forum designed to let business owners learn about contract opportunities and to learn how to do business with the Corps. Senior leadership from each division in the district was on hand to discuss aspects of the Corps’ work throughout Arizona and Nevada.
“Many times people just don’t understand what we in the Army Corps of Engineers do, so this really provides a forum for them to understand the Corps,” said Col. Mark Toy, the Los Angeles District commander. “It allows them to do it in a very efficient way, because they can meet everybody in the Corps of Engineers in a two-hour period.”
There were no formal presentations, no pouring over mountains of computer slideshows, and no speeches during the event. Instead, the Corps laid out the room with tables around the perimeter and representatives from the various divisions to speak with businesses owners and representatives who attended.
Toy said the idea for the open forum came from discussions he had with members of the Society of American Military Engineers in Los Angeles who let him know they had difficulty meeting and understanding how the Corps works.
“It really is in the idea that we’re trying to be good partners, because in the Army Corps of Engineers, we actually don’t build anything,” he explained. “We do programs and project management. We do design. We do construction. We do quality assurance. But, we actually don’t build anything. The people who actually build things are the people who are in this room, so we need to establish that good relationship with them at the very beginning.”
The businesses, which were both large and small, attended the event to meet with district representatives in each area of the Corps’ business lines. Members of the business community said they appreciated the chance to have such a relaxed event at which they could really take time to get to know Corps team members.
“It’s relaxed and you can let everyone here know just what it is you do and how you can help,” said Maria Dadgar, vice president for Marketing and Strategic Growth for PACE Pacific. “It’s very important to hold more of these kinds of open houses, especially now. With the economy the way it is now, we, as business owners, really appreciate the opportunity to meet with organizations like the Corps in a local setting.”
The district’s sheer size, with its area of responsibility extending into four states, has attracted businesses from as far away as San Diego and Las Vegas, in addition to businesses in Phoenix and across Arizona. Local Corps employees said the chance to interact with business owners was equally beneficial.
“I found that there were a lot of people thanking Angela and I for doing all of the work; but, they also said they found the interactions with Corps employees to be very valuable,” said Quana Higgins, a lead planner in the Arizona/Nevada Area Office. “It seemed like there were quite a few small businesses which have not had the opportunity to work with the Corps yet that were able to get that important ‘what we do’ information.”
In the end, nearly 300 business owners and operators attended the day’s event. Each of them came away with new information and insight into how the Corps operates and how they can better leverage their own abilities into the Corps’ mission. The small business owners said they feel better about their chances to work with the Corps of Engineers.
“I think it’s good. We’ve been able to talk to some small business people to help us get some support in terms of small business set asides,” said Kristin Fangmeier, principal investigator for Archaeological Consulting Services. Ltd. “I think it would be useful (for the Corps to host another event like this in the future) because there’s always new faces and making that kind of contact is very valuable.”