News: Bliss opened gates to new contractors during ‘Industry Day’
Story by David Poe
FORT BLISS, Texas - Mission Installation Contract-ing Command-Fort Bliss, along with the U.S. Army Office of Small Business Programs and the El Paso (Texas) Small Business Consortium, hosted Industry Day at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center at East Fort Bliss, Oct. 14.
The all-day event brought businesses in contact with government agencies to learn about MICC-Fort Bliss’ organization, fiscal 2011 and 2012 contract opportunities, and the contract process involved in supporting Bliss’ current expansion.
Col. Joseph Simonelli Jr., Bliss’ garrison commander, opened the information session by welcoming potential future members of Team Bliss with a firm pronouncement of how business is done on his post.
“We are transparent in our operations here on Fort Bliss,” said Simonelli, “and that’s why we’ve come out here today; number one [to promote] our transparency and two [inform the public on] the processes. Everybody here has an equal opportunity to get into Fort Bliss, but we have processes that we are going to follow.”
He added that with many representatives from both on and off post on hand, Industry Day would serve to be a perfect opportunity for businesses to learn everything they needed to know about possible contracts on Bliss.
“If you leave here without the answers you need, it’ll be because you didn’t ask the question,” said Simonelli, “so I encourage you to do that.” In the spirit of information sharing, he also included that the presentations and questions-and-answers from the day would be made available online, and that the same experts in attendance would be a phone call away if future questions arose.
The agenda offered 10 forums for guests, ranging from general topics such as the “Mission and Vision of Fort Bliss,” presented by the post’s Mission Support Element office, to many organizational visions from areas such as Bliss Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Directorate of Logistics and William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have held informational sessions for larger contractors at Fort Bliss since the first quarter of 2007, David Woj-ciechowski, team leader for MICC-Fort Bliss’ public works and utilities branch, said Thurs-day’s Industry Day was a success because it provided an opportunity for smaller, local companies who may not have the resources for major contracts to learn about opportunities which better fit their respective scopes.
“It allows contractors to network,” said Wojciechowski. “In this case there seems to be a lot of contractors here trying to sell products. It’s intended to be informative and help people with the processes. There may be some value in what they learn here, or the contacts they make could end up being the next phone call that gets them a contract.”
If the opinion of Ivonne Gastelum, the director of sales for Homewood Suites by Hilton El Paso, who was attending her first forum of this kind on post, was any indication, Wojciechowski’s feeling that Industry Day was time well spent for potential contractors was a certain reality.
“It’s been very helpful and has offered informative information which will help me do better business with the government and I’ll be better prepared when I present them with a bid,” said Gastelum.
She said her company currently has no contracts on Bliss, but has had them in the past, and that by attending the event, she had a wealth of information to bring back to her employers.
“The company I work for owns more than 40 hotels so the [information on how to pursue] opportunities here, will pertain to other locations as well,” said Gastelum. “I’m going to go back and share websites with a lot of good information, and where to find good opportunities.”