Corpus Christi, TX- Corpus Christi Army Depot's Business Development Office (BDO) held its first depot-to-business workshop at Del Mar College's Business Center, March 23, to discuss opportunities for local businesses to contract with the area's largest employer.

The CCAD team met with representatives from more than 30 local machine shops to present a roadmap to do business with CCAD and the Dept. of Defense. CCAD's BDO partnered with the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Commission, Del Mar College's Procurement Technical Assistance Center and Small Business Development Center to bring about the workshop.

"This is an excellent opportunity to create a vital relationship with the local business community," said Bob Straiton, CCAD Business Development Office Chief. "It is one way CCAD can incorporate local business while meeting our customers' requirements."

The three-hour workshop laid the groundwork for the local machinists to initiate business with the government and included details about contracting issues, certifications and registration.

The machinists were the first group targeted to help the aviation complex decrease a backlog of tool and die manufacturing.

Requirements for manufacturing the needed special tools were addressed by Gary Richmer, Chief CCAD Tool Engineering Support Division, who presented details about the type of tools needed, critical aviation manufacturing requirements, design tolerances, and a schedule of upcoming events.

This included future meetings and visits to the shops to survey the equipment and capabilities of each.

CCAD's partnering with small business will infuse the local economy with work and reduce the lead time for manufacturing tools necessary to repair helicopters, said Richmer.

"We can get tools into the hands of those who need it which in turn helps get our helicopters to the Warfighter sooner," Straiton said.

CCAD Contracting Officer, Rod Wolthoff, laid out the process of registering on the Central Contracting Registration (CCR), Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website and the steps necessary for a business to contract with CCAD.

"There are necessary procedures that every contractor must complete to be considered for work at the Depot," said Wolthoff. "This is one occasion where we are reaching out to the local community to satisfy a Depot need."

This is an important connection between CCAD and the local businessman said Joe Cisneros, CCREDC Vice-president.

This workshop, which came together very quickly, is an excellent opportunity to grow business and create jobs for the area.

"We're doing this at a time when the economy is vulnerable," added Cisneros. "CCAD is pro-active with this program."

Participants viewed this workshop as an opportunity to get their foot in the door with the government after what previously seemed like futile attempts.

Gary Gillham of Alice, TX., noted that this was not his first workshop. "It's more promising than those in the past," he said. "It'd be good to find out that there's a benefit for us."

Another, Robert Rosales, owner of a local equipment repair shop, saw the workshop as an opportunity to get work rolling in his shop.

The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), housed at Del Mar College's Business Center on Kostoryz Road, aids local businesses by working through an array of requirements or paperwork.

Geared toward small business (defined as a business with less than 500 employees), Sean Smith, PTAC Program Director, mentioned they'll work with any small business wanting to work with the government.

"We're here to guide you through the process," said Smith. "One step at a time but we'll point out all the opportunities available."

There are different small business categories, including small business set-aside, Section 8(a), small disadvantaged business, Historically-underutilized business zone, Women-owned, Veteran-owned, and Service Disabled Veteran owned that might give a business an edge in dealing with the government, Smith said.

The workshop also included a presentation by the Small Business Association that detailed ways to help small business open doors or create more opportunities for employment.

"The bottom line in conducting this workshop," said Richmer. "Is to help stimulate the local economy while, at the same time, get special tools, jigs and fixtures into CCAD artisans' hands in a timely manner so we can get the aircraft back in the field for our Warfighters."

More monthly workshops are being planned in order to build relationships with local vendors so as to include them as approved contractors and present bid opportunities.