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Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, Air Force Materiel Command vice commander, visits with small-business representative Norm Burch during the Tinker and the Primes National Business Event Nov. 10 at the Reed Center in Midwest City. The AFMC vice commander was the featured speaker at the annual event which focuses on helping small businesses and contractors navigate the requirements of doing business with the government. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)
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Prime time event

Posted 11/23/2010   Updated 11/23/2010 Email story   Print story


by Brandice J. Armstrong
Tinker Public Affairs

11/23/2010 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- Another Tinker and the Primes National Business Event has drawn to a close. The messages repeated during the Nov. 8-10 event were clear: the government wants you, small business and don't give up.

Organized differently than years past, the 2010 event held at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel and Reed Conference Center, offered a new theme and its own keynote speaker for each day. Three high-ranking Air Force officials spoke during the event.

"The importance of small business in this country really cannot be overstated and that's why we as a federal entity of the Department of Defense in every one of the subordinate levels within the Air Force have small business programs," said Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, Air Force Materiel Command vice commander. "It's important to acknowledge that small business is critical to the future of this country."

AFMC contributes more than 50 percent, or $4.7 billion, of fiscal 2010 dollars that had been awarded to small business within the Air Force.

Day one of the event centered on small business forums and featured keynote speaker John Caporal, acting director of the Office of Small Business Programs in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. During his speech, he mentioned how the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center and the state trended in regard to small business.

Between fiscal 2005 and 2010, dollars obligated to small business at the OC-ALC had its ups and downs. Last fiscal year dropped by $25.8 million from 2009. Last year's numbers are also down from fiscal 2005, in which $41.7 million more was spent on small business.

But, the total amount of Air Force dollars obligated to small businesses from the state of Oklahoma has risen steadily since fiscal 2004. In fiscal 2010, $230.1 million was obligated to small business, which is an increase of $24.6 million over fiscal 2009 and $119.7 million in fiscal 2004.

In fact, one of the Air Force's top five small business contributors in fiscal 2010 is CymSTAR. Based out of Broken Arrow, the company obligated $32.3 million to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

"If we don't tie small business to the mission of the Air Force, we're really missing the boat and eventually we're going to fail. It's not just being a small business advocate, it's being an advocate for the mission using small business resources," Mr. Caporal said. "If we can get these customers to see the value of small business, then I think we won't have to worry so much about the goals."

On day two, Air Force Global Logistics Support Center Commander Maj. Gen. Gary McCoy spoke about the AFGLSC, its objectives and how contractors can help. General McCoy said strategic sourcing versus individual contracts is the way to go.

"We need to work with you to find ways to reduce cost and production lead time," General McCoy said. "It should not take 18 to 24 months to produce many of the things that we need. In many cases, I have discovered similar products that are produced for commercial companies are often delivered in a third of the time it takes to get like products to support our weapons systems. We need to find ways to drive down cost and improve responsiveness."

Day three focused on the Air Force Materiel Command and trends in acquisition procurement that relate to the Acquisition Improvement Plan. General Wolfenbarger spoke about the AFMC perspective.

"In the role that we play, we take it very seriously the importance of making sure everyone understands the significance of small business," said General Wolfenbarger.

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