Justin Clark of Waco Composites did not mince words when he explained why his company sent him to the Fort Hood Region Government Vendor Conference & Exposition at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Wednesday.
“We’re looking for government contracts,” Clark said.
That’s the idea, said Marcus Carr, director of the Central Texas Business Resource Center, which sponsored the conference.
Ninety-four companies set up booths and more than 10 speakers addressed interested small-business owners. Carr said the point of the conference is to educate small-business owners about government contracting opportunities they might not learn about otherwise.
“I think it’s an untapped area for a lot of small businesses,” Carr said. “We get asked, ‘How can I get more business?’ all the time. This is something that can be very lucrative, but a lot of people don’t think about.”
Maureen Huston of the Fort Hood Contracting Command stressed the importance of doing research during her address.
“It is important if you want to participate in government procurement that you know how it is done,” Huston said. “Mainly, that is knowing the rules.”
After his lecture, Bill Parry, executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, said learning the ins and outs of government procurement is only one aspect of what makes the conference worthwhile.
“Probably just as important a part of it is that it gives small businesses the opportunity to network with each other,” he said.
Carr said he hopes the conference alleviates the fears a lot of small businesses have about scoring government contracts.
“A lot of people are scared off by the red tape,” Carr said. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is very possible to get more business by being a subcontractor for a larger company that already has a contract with the government. They have already gone through the red tape.”