Veterans Business Conference

The East Tennessee Veterans Business Conference, which the UT Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and B&W Y12 have successfully directed for the last four years, was attended by nearly 400 small businesses in August at the New Hope Center in Oak Ridge. 

Veteran-owned businesses and other small businesses used this opportunity to learn about business opportunities with the military, the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA. Other agencies included the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the National Guard, the National Park Service, Ft. Campbell Army Base, Arnold Air Force Base and the Missile Defense Agency. 

The conference started with an energetic speech by Brigadier General Terrence A. Feehan, deputy program manager at the Missile Defense Agency, who spoke about the importance and technology used in implementing the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Feehan got the attendees off to an exciting start with his delivery and behind-thescene stories about U.S. strategic defense systems.

The UT Center for Industrial Services (CIS) managed a booth at the conference, along with 40 other federal, state and local agencies, and large prime contractors. CIS staff who attended the conference included CIS Executive Director Paul Jennings; CIS PTAC Program Manager Joe Flynn; CIS Economic Development Specialist Beth Phillips; and CIS PTAC Consultant Debbie Barber, who was a panelist at the event. CIS PTAC Consultant Paul Middlebrooks and CIS Graduate Intern Jafar Ware, who were involved in the planning of the conference, were also in attendance.

“The New Hope Center provided a great venue for conference attendees to come together to learn about upcoming procurements, share best business practices and explore teaming opportunities,” Flynn said.

The conference was initially developed in identifying service-disabled veteran small businesses in an effort to assist B&W Y12 in reaching its small business contracting goals with the Department of Energy. However, all small businesses were encouraged to attend. The pre-conference reception attracted nearly 150 participants to the New Hope Center.

Along with co-sponsors UT PTAC and Y-12 National Security Complex, several organizations were involved as partners with the conference including the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, WSI-OR Inc., the Small Business Administration (Nashville Office), Tennessee Small Business Development Center, the Tennessee Business Enterprise Resource Office, Knox County, the City of Knoxville, the Smoky Mountain Resource Conservation and Development Council, Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce and the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council.