Program to help local businesses get more defense contracts

The Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association, known also as DaytonDefense, launched the initiative Thursday, entitled Ohio Defense Connects, that attracted about 120 business representatives to listen to federal, state and industry leaders outline how to simplify the process of finding where government work is and tips on how to win contracts.

“For us, this is about jobs in Ohio,” said Deborah Gross, executive director of DaytonDefense, who said about twice as many companies showed interest, but training space limited how many could attend the gathering at the Hope Hotel and Conference Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The Defense Deparment spends about $150 billion a year to maintain equipment and buy supplies and spare parts. Locally, defense leaders say they’d like a bigger chunk of business with Wright-Patterson and major units such based there such as the Air Force Materiel Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The military has thousands of unmet manufacturing needs where one bid, no bids or a foreign manufacturer respond, officials said. The initiative aims to attract a bigger share of the nation’s more than 300,000 manufacturers to get involved beyond the 10 percent or so that sell to the Pentagon today.

“Somewhere in the depot or the field, the warfighter or the maintainer is having to go to extraordinary lengths because they can’t get a spare part,” said Brench L. Boden, a manufacturing authority at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson.

DaytonDefense has paired with West Lafayette, Ind.-based Imaginestics to use social media and shape recognition computer search technology to match what a company makes to a Defense Department need.

“We feel this is a hotbed for manufacturing just because of the abilities of companies in this region,” said Scott Chadwick, a project manager at Bastech, Inc., an engineering, prototyping and tooling business in Dayton. “It just opens up a whole new field for us if we could get involved.”

Company attendees entered information about their products and capabilities in a computer database Thursday, the first step in the process.

Debi Talentino, assistant vice president at Vector Composites Inc., in Dayton, said its “very difficult” to sort through Defense Department bid requests.

“It’s laborious, and time-consuming and too costly and, honestly, too broad,” she said. She’s hopeful the initiative will make it easier.

Small business manufacturer Connective Design Inc. in Miamisburg has “zero business” with Wright-Patterson, but wants to change that in spite of navigating through government bureaucracy, said Mike Chandler, CDI vice president.

“You run across a lot of roadblocks, he said. “It’s just so big.”

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