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How to Access Procurement Opportunities Through TACOM, the Minority Business Development Agency, and Wayne County Airport Authority

As part of the Black- and Diverse-Owned Business Series, the Detroit Regional Chamber partnered with Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Pure Michigan Business Connect to host the webinar How to Access Procurement Opportunities.

The webinar featured a panel that was moderated by Chamber Chief Operating Officer Tammy Carnrike, and included:

  • Marie Gapinski, Assistant Director, Office of Small Business Programs, US Army TACOM
  • Tommy Marks, Director, Minority Business Development Agency Center, Virginia Department of Commerce
  • Malindia Westbrook, Procurement Deputy Director, Supplier Diversity DBE/ACDBE Liaison Officer, Wayne County Airport Authority

Accessing Procurement Opportunities Through the Minority Business Development Agency

Fifty-two years ago, on March 5, 1969, former President Nixon signed an executive order to set up the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The office was created to exclusively promote equal economic opportunities for minority business enterprises (MBEs), specifically those owned by African Americans, Asian Americans, Hasidic Jews, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

Today, the MBDA continues to services those minority populations through its 45 general business centers, advanced manufacturing centers, export centers, and federal procurement centers. The MBDA also provides matchmaking opportunities and support services, such as capacity building and financial and tech assistance.

“Business centers will assist you to improve your operational efficiencies, increase resources, build a scale, manage risk, increase liability thresholds, strengthen your management teams, [and] access to secure financing, equity, and venture capital,” Marks said. “They also increase your profits and owner equity and implement and integrate new technology.”

Marks helps run 36 of the business centers around the country, all focusing on local, state, and federal government opportunities.

“A big thing that we pride ourselves on is managing relationships and sources of the deal by promoting your interests along with federal agencies, and also with corporate America,” Marks said. “In the state of Michigan, the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council is a big entity focused on minority businesses… Together, we work hand in hand with our Council presidents in order to bring what we believe can help our businesses prosper.”

According to Marks, the focus of MBDAs is to make sure small businesses get a seat at the table, both to help the business but also to help with mission responsibilities for agencies. But to ensure that, Marks emphasized that small businesses have to be ready when they come to the table, “so when those opportunities present themselves, you know that you can do them and that you can prove that.”

Accessing Procurement Opportunities Through the Office of Small Business Programs

At the United States Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), Gapinski said they are always looking for diverse-owned businesses to apply for procurement contracts. She said the best way to learn what’s available is to email her and send a capability statement and introduction to your company. One important thing to include is the past performance of your organization.

“I don’t care if it’s commercial, if it’s with one of the larger automotive companies, or you’ve been a Tier 2, or you’re just getting started – we need to know that because we have different levels available of types of work that you probably can engage with,” Gapinski said.

Gapinski and her procurement team also look at who you are, what you do, and where you need to go when you send a capability statement.

“We do market research, not only on our level, but at the contracting level. It’s not just about our goals,” Gapinski said. “I want to find you the good things you do, inventions, and the things you have available to us.”

While TACOM is not actively looking for computer or enterprise services and hardware because they have to get those types of items through CHESS contracts, there are still ample procurement opportunities through them.

“If it’s got wheels or track, if it’s petroleum water-based, if it’s on a soldier, if he shoots it, uses it, or sits on it, TACOM’s responsible for that procurement and then the repair of it as well,” Gapinski said.

 Accessing Procurement Opportunities Through Wayne County Airport Authority

At Wayne County Airport Authority, Westbrook said they are looking for small, disadvantaged businesses to participate in their Small Business Enterprises (SBE) program. It’s an authority-wide initiative governed by the WCAA Procurement and Contracting Ordinance that was created to increase the number of opportunities available to small business in Southeast Michigan on non-federally funded airport authority contracts.

Small disadvantaged businesses can also gain access to WCAA procurement contracts by getting certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), which includes Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (ACDBEs), through one of three certifying agencies in the Michigan Unified Certification Program (MUCP).

The three agencies include the Michigan Department of TransportationWayne County Human Relations, and Detroit Department of Transportation. By gaining certification through one of them, businesses will become eligible to apply to any federally funded Department of Transportation grant recipients’ DBE procurement contracts, including those by WCAA.

According to Westbrook, once a business gets certified either through their SBE program or through one of the MUCP agencies, they can “bet on those [contracts] and that their only other competition would be small businesses like themselves.”

Some procurement contracts available through the airport include runway reconstruction, janitorial services, snow removal around the terminal and airfield, audiovisual equipment, and office supplies.

“Anything you can think of that you’d need to run a city or small municipality, we need at the airport,” Westbrook said. “That’s in addition to our requirements for the concrete runways or building small buildings out on the airfield. We’re also looking for participation there.”

Panelists Contact Information:

Gapinski: marie.t.gapinski.civ@army.mil

Marks: tommylnmarks@gmail.com

Westbrook: malindia.westbrook@wcaa.us