Event highlights opportunities for women-owned business

  • Published
  • By Michele Ruff
  • Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command

Opportunities abound for women-owned small business in the Air Force, and the Air Force Materiel Command Small Business office is on a mission to make those possibilities known.

The small business office, in partnership with the Wright Brothers Institute located in downtown Dayton, Ohio, recently hosted a hybrid event targeted to women-owned business. Participants from across the nation attended the meeting on November 4 in-person or virtually.

The Federal government administers goals for the hiring of small businesses. For the most part, the goals are modest and attainable, but they can be difficult in some socio-economic areas, including hub zones. Hub zones are identified as rural geographic regions or declining parts of cities.

“We developed a multi-pronged approach to meeting our goals,” Jeff Mellott, Director of Small Business Programs at Headquarters, AFMC. “We have had internal training sessions and now this external event.”

Part of the impetus for the meeting was the recent changes made by the SBA to women-owned businesses. The SBA now offers a certification for which businesses can apply. This certification makes it much easier for contracting officers as they no longer have to determine on their own whether a business qualifies.

The meeting featured speakers from the Small Business Administration, the Kern Women’s Business Center located near Edwards Air Force Base, and defense-oriented organizations such as Women in Defense and AFCEA. Small business directors from all AFMC centers discussed upcoming opportunities in their specific areas. The Ohio Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) explained the assistance they offer and provided information on PTACs in every state.

The event also included a panel discussion highlighting women who have been successful in their efforts in the defense industry. They discussed their experiences and how they made connections.

“These women are not women business leaders, they are just leaders—role models and examples for any business,” said Mellott.

Although the day was touted as a women-owned business event, much of the information presented was pertinent to any small business. It is the first in a series of engagements that will help businesses find the resources available to be effective in the defense industry.