More than 600 people filled the room eager to learn about the billions of dollars worth of work expected in the North Atlantic region in the upcoming years.

Large and small businesses from across the country joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District Nov. 5 for an Industry Day. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, congressman for Maryland's second district, helped kicked off the event.

"Thanks to the Army Corps for pulling this together. Networking and relationships are very important," Ruppersberger said. "The economy is alive and well. Less than two weeks ago for the first time in six years, we passed the Water Resources Development Act. It will create a lot of jobs in the area."

Industry Day served two purposes. First, it provided a platform for Baltimore District leaders to explain all of the upcoming work across the program areas and how to navigate the contracting process. Second it gave contractors a venue to meet sub-contractors and vendors, and vice versa, during the matchmaking portion of the event.

Matchmaking allowed prime contractors to network with small businesses and vendors specializing in areas they may need on their projects. These small businesses are an important and necessary facet on every District project.

"Of our forecasted fiscal year 2014 opportunities $200 million will be going toward small business," said District Commander Col. Jordan during his opening remarks.

Sharon Morrow, Headquarters Corps of Engineers Office of Small Business, joined the District at Industry Day to highlight the variety of work available for small businesses.

"No matter the project, small businesses are a key ingredient in our ability to accomplish the important civil and military construction missions," Morrow said. "We're about offering a level playing field so that all business can offer their expertise and talent toward delivering important projects to our nation that will have enormous impacts."

Each of the program area chiefs recognized the potential adverse impacts of the current economic environment on District projects. However, they also highlighted areas that are trending in their section. For example, sustainable energy and green projects will continue to be a focus and trend in military construction.

"The Army will continue to meet the needs of the nation," Jordan said during his remarks. "We're our nation's engineers."

Attendees overwhelmingly provided positive feedback and asked for the District to continue hosting these types of events.

"As a small business specializing in military munitions response based in a HUB Zone, we found the information and technical resources available at the recent Industry Day forum to be extremely valuable," said Jenna Coven Perman, marketing manager for Ordnance Holdings, Inc. "It is great to see that the District is committed to the small business community, and we look forward to the opportunities in FY2014.