Industry Day: A case of good timing
There's always a lot of questions when an organization launches an event for the first time. However, the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology already had some indication of how it might go a month before the November event.
"Our exhibit area sold out a month in advance," said Charlie Beasley, President and CEO of MSET about the inaugural Stennis Industry Day, held Nov. 16 and 17 at the Northshore Harbor Center in Slidell, La.
The event drew 250 participants from 17 states, including California, Utah, Arizona, Ohio and states along the East Coast. There were 95 small businesses and 18 large businesses that attended, along with 20 non-profits, state and federal agencies. There were 39 exhibitors, but 20 others had to be turned away due to space limitations.
"We received a lot of good feedback," Beasley said about Industry Day, which included talks by NASA and Navy officials and informal matchmaking sessions. And while the holiday season may not seem ideal for an event of this type, it was fortuitous timing for occurring at a time when NASA's Stennis Space Center appears to be on a roll.
While there's always been a lot of activity at SSC, some of the more recent activities have been growth-related. One of the biggest came in September when NASA announced the Space Launch System, making it clear SSC will be busy into the future testing engines for the program.
Then in November NASA sent out feelers to see if any company was interested in leasing the underutilized E-4 Test Facility. It was a step towards attracting companies involved in NASA's programs or commercial space ventures.
In December came word that Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., will test the BE-3 engine at SSC. That was followed in January by Rolls-Royce North America's decision to invest $50 million to add a second jet engine test stand to its Outdoor Jet Engine Testing Facility.
Stennis Space Center Director Patrick Scheuermann told the quarterly Alliance Insight that word is getting out about the test stands, the land that's available for development and the expertise at SSC, and commercial companies are showing interest.
MSET said that Industry Day was developed after months of coordination with the agencies and contractors making up the Stennis Business Consortium. The event featured training sessions conducted by the Small Business Administration and an informal business matchmaking session. That provided the opportunity for small companies to meet with small business specialists from Stennis government agencies and prime contractors.
"Stennis Industry Day gave businesses the opportunity to meet and network with procurement and technical representatives from federal agencies, service providers, Stennis contractors and commercial companies to discuss contract opportunities, network, and establish new business relationships," said Beasley.
Sponsors were the Mississippi Development Authority, Raytheon, Ingall's Shipbuilding and Hancock Bank. The Gulf Coast Government Contractor's Association hosted an evening reception.
One of the purposes of Industry Day was to provide a better overview of the range of activities.
"The world knows that Stennis Space Center is the premier site for testing rocket engines, yet folks a few miles from the gate are often not aware of the industrial and environmental diversity of the center," said state Rep. Mark Formby, R-Pearl River. "Industry Day provides an opportunity for Stennis residents and potential residents to come together."
Encouraged to see a gathering that highlights the business opportunities at SSC, Louisiana state Sen. A.G.Crowe said, "Together, we can make this region a technology corridor that would produce meaningful, high-tech jobs and opportunities."
" MSET, a business incubator and technology transfer office created in 1994, plans to hold another Industry Day next year. But the follow-up will be held in the first quarter of 2013, either February or March, and likely in Mississippi," said Beasley. - David Tortorano
ASRC Research and Technology Solutions
Computer Sciences Corp.
Naval Oceanographic Office
QinetiQ North America
Science Applications International Corp.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services
Raytheon Technical Services.
Non-profits offering help
Mississippi Enterprise for Technology
Small Business Administration
Louisiana Technology Transfer Office
Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center
South Mississippi Contract Procurement Center
Mississippi Federal and State Technology Program
Gulf Coast Government Contractor's Association
National Industries for Severely Handicapped
Minority Business Development Centers
General Services Administration
We hope that you found our featured article very informative. If you would like to learn more about the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology, please contact us at (228) 688-3144 or www.mset.org.