By Daniel P. Elkins, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeJune 6, 2019
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (June 6, 2019) -- The business operations division chief for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command office at Fort Bliss, Texas, earned honors as the 2018 Army Small Business Professional of the Year Award.
Melissa Garcia was presented the award in May during the Small Business Training Week 2019 in St. Louis for her efforts on behalf of small businesses interests while supporting MICC contracting offices at Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas, which collectively awarded 2,589 small business-eligible contract actions estimated at $358.8 million.
Garcia, who recently moved to her new position as division chief, was previously responsible for ensuring the success of small business programs in support of the Army Contracting Command and MICC.
"Melissa has been instrumental in improving the perception within El Paso and New Mexico regarding MICC's support of local small business. She quickly earned the respect and trust of leadership by providing excellent support to MICC offices, our customers and contractors seeking to do business with the government," said Luis Trinidad, the assistant director for the MICC Office of Small Business Programs with the 418th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Hood.
Garcia credits the command's small business outreach efforts as key in earning the recognition.
"Through our successful small business outreach program, we were able to really touch so many contractors and more importantly educate them on the needs of the Army along with the process for contracting with the MICC," Garcia said. "I always tell them to understand the environment they are working in and adapt; that is what the Army wants, agile businesses that can provide successful solutions when called upon."
During fiscal 2018, the 14-year acquisition professional coordinated more than 10 small business community outreach events contributing significantly to increase the industrial base in the region seeking contract opportunities with the MICC at Fort Bliss while at the same time increasing competition for those contract actions. This, in turn, significantly boosted participation in acquisitions by the local small business community.
"Small businesses need a seat at the table. They have a lot to offer the Army and just need the opportunity to prove themselves," said Garcia, who holds a master of business administration from the University of Texas at El Paso. "As a small business specialist I serve as a conduit between industry and the contracting staff in order to ensure that small businesses understand the need to operationalize and align themselves with the needs of the warfighter, thus producing better overall products and services that will meet the Army's needs."
The success is apparent in the increase of contract awards to small businesses in the Texas-New Mexico regions. In fiscal 2017, MICC-Fort Bliss awarded approximately $25.4 million to small business contractors in the region. That amount grew to $63.4 million in fiscal 2018, which amounts to more than 79% of all small business awards going to local businesses, according to Trinidad.
Certified Level III in contracting as part of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, Garcia joined the MICC small business team in November 2017 and quickly set out to improve compliance with procurement management review findings identified prior to her assumption of duties. This included gaining buy-in from contracting leadership at the both Fort Bliss and Fort Hood to move the small business programs forward.
"It is vital to not only our success as an organization but the success of industry as a whole and ultimately the warfighter," Garcia said. "With leadership ensuring that small business has a seat at the table, we can continue to contribute and provide key input that ultimately results in what we hope is the best solution to help meet the mission."
The El Paso, Texas, native next focused on consistent monitoring of progress toward achieving the small business goals for the two MICC offices she support, enabling both offices to successfully achieve fiscal 2018 small business metrics across the board. Fort Hood exceeded its small business goals by 7.05%, service-disabled veteran-owned small business by 4.62%, woman-owned small business by 2.85%, and historically underutilized business zone by .85%. MICC-Fort Bliss exceeded small business goals by 8.03%, small disadvantaged business by 13.82%, service-disabled veteran-owned small business by 7.04%, woman-owned small business by 11.51%, and HUBZone by 12.10%.
Aside from successes and recognition, Garcia finds the most gratitude in being a part of something greater.
"It's something I am extremely passionate about -- supporting Soldiers and their families. Whatever role I'm in, I've always understood that at the end of the day, it is all about them and their families," she said.
About the MICC:
Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.