FORT CARSON, Colorado (June 6, 2014) -- Small business representatives learned more about contracting opportunities at Fort Carson, Colorado, during an open house May 27, 2014."This forum is … an opportunity for us, as a contracting organization for the Army, and you, business leaders and business partners, to share information," said Lt. Col. Christopher Ostby, commander of the 918th Contingency Contracting Battalion and Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Carson.Attendees learned how the Army contracting process works, some of the basic requirements and a few of the upcoming contracts that need to be filled."A positive is that they're reaching out to the public and letting us know about all the opportunities that are coming up. I think that's important," said Lee Shakespeare, the business development manager for Rocky Mountain Group, an engineering firm.When there is a procurement for less than $150,000, it must be set aside for small business, as long as there are at least two businesses that can compete for the contract, said Barbara Gutow, the small business specialist for MICC-Fort Carson."Our market research is still going to prevail, so even though it says mandatory set-aside under $150,000 to small business, if our market research tells us that there aren't any capable small businesses, then we are going to go unrestricted," she said.In fiscal 2013, Fort Carson awarded about $41 million in small business contracts."Small business is the engine of our economy," Gutow said. "It promotes productivity and employment statistics. It generates patents, and it enhances competition, which results in better value to the government."The open house was the first of its kind at Fort Carson."This has never been done here," Ostby said. "(It's) my way of reaching out to our folks who provide service to our warfighters, our family members and our civilians … it's huge because it gives what kind of capabilities are out there, also to dispel and identify some of the challenges. It's not going to fit everybody in the audience, but maybe if we can catch one or two that might now know what we do and the type of requirements that we have, this will definitely give them an eye-opening experience."Ostby stressed that the purpose of the open house was not to just sign small businesses up to be government contractors but to also increase awareness."We're going to share what type of requirements or needs, whether it's service, commodity or minor construction, from my organization and Fort Carson," he said.The information was valuable to Bill Mounga, marketing director for Orion Environmental, a company that has already been competitively awarded some contracts at Fort Carson."This was a phenomenal opportunity," he said.Fort Carson has set high goals for small business contracts, hoping to award 44 percent to small business for fiscal 2014, Gutow said. The federal goal is 23 percent of total small business eligible dollars.Ostby said he hopes to have another open house in the future."It helps me out as a commander to have that expectation management and also to reach out to our customers, see what their requirements are, and share that information," he said.