Vicenza Military Community leadership reaches out to local entrepreneurs
May 30, 2013
VICENZA, Italy - Vicenza Military Community leaders met with more than 90 area business leaders and entrepreneurs in Vicenza May 22 to discuss business opportunities at Caserma Ederle and Caserma Del Din .
USAG Vicenza deputy commander Chuck Walls, DFMWR director Chris Bradford and Italy Consolidated Services business manager for concessionaire Roberta Satterfield represented the VMC at a public forum organized in conjunction with the area's association of independent artisanal business owners, Confartigianato Vicenza.
"It's kind of like a chamber of commerce, but specifically for artisans. They're all small businessmen, businesswomen," said Peter Brownfeld, host nation adviser. The meeting was a follow-up to a gathering in December, at which Walls made a presentation to the artisan community.
"The consul general from Milan came for that one," said Brownfeld. "That was a broader discussion of what the economic opportunities were. We didn't really get into the specifics of how somebody could contract with us, have a stand set up for an operation or how to compete for a contract. So this is kind of a follow-up to that to get more details. We wanted to get people who are really more operational here so they could respond to how somebody gets involved in doing business with the base."
The Confartigianato is the largest association of its kind in Italy and has some 22,000 members in the Province of Vicenza, said Stefano Baroni, the group's communications and external relations director.
"When we were here last time we talked about opportunities with the opening of Del Din and at Caserma Ederle," Walls told the audience, introducing Bradford and Satterfield. "We responded to that opportunity, so tonight I have two people with me who represent the bosses who actually arrange for businesses to come on to Caserma Ederle and Del Din.
"Even after the presentation we will stay here a little bit to answer any of your questions if we don't answer them on the stage tonight because it's important for us to know your concerns and your questions," said Walls. "Thank you for this opportunity."
Satterfield addressed the business owners directly in Italian and Anna Ciccotti of the garrison Public Affairs office provided translation support for Bradford in explaining contracting with the Army and other business practices. Their presentations were an overview of business opportunities on the American installations, the government contracting process and online links for additional information and contacts.
Afterward, several audience members asked questions that were addressed from the dais, and then dozens of individuals came forward to discuss particulars face-to-face with Bradford, Satterfield and Ciccotti. The back and forth went on for more than half an hour.
Bradford was surprised at the amount and intensity of questions from the audience. "They didn't seem like they'd ask that many questions," he said.
Entrepreneur Laura Vicino, whose business manufactures porcelain flowers, came with specific questions.
"I have already been working with the AAFES and I used to go inside the caserma for the bazaars, so I more or less have an idea of how it works. I wanted to know if something was changed, though," she said.
Vicino came away positively impressed, she said.
"I saw this person very open, very . . . disponibile," she said, searching for the right word in English, " . . . available to answer any questions and so I think it was very, very interesting."
"Very good dialogue tonight, and I did not expect the questions on contracting, but those are good questions and we can come ready the next time with even more information on that," said Walls. "I will close by just telling you, again, we think these are very important, the opportunities to dialogue, and we will keep that door open so that we continue the dialogue."
A date for another follow-up meeting this summer has yet to be set, said Ciccotti.