The Army Contracting Command gathered more than 250 years of contracting experience to answer questions from attendees at the National Defense Industrial Association's 14th Annual Small Business Conference Nov. 17 in McLean, Va.

According to Alice Williams-Gray, ACC Office of Small Business associate director, the conference provides a forum for an open exchange of information and ideas between senior government officials and small business leaders.

Contracting professionals participated in an 'open question period' where the panel, led by ACC executive director Jeff Parsons, responded to questions from the audience, ranging from generic how-to-do-business questions to talks on actions and discussions at the Department of Defense level on future acquisition strategies.

"America was built by small businesses. In these difficult economic times, more and more businesses are seeking opportunities to do business with local, state and federal government," Parsons said. "These forums provide companies the information they need to start the process and develop contacts that can help them along the way. Small Businesses provide vital goods and services to our Warfighters and we tend to see some of the best innovations from our small business contractors."

The panel consisted of Parsons and a mixture of directors, executive directors and principal assistants responsible for contracting at ACC's contracting centers nationwide.

"By attending in these types of conferences, participants learn firsthand about available business opportunities with government and leading large businesses," said Williams-Gray. "They have the chance to exchange information and ideas directly with senior government leaders; meet government decision makers in the acquisitions community; and discuss opportunities with the Department of Defense, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and with large businesses."

"Providing for the Nation's security requires an effective partnership between the military and the small business community. Small business is "big business" in the U.S. military services," Williams-Gray said.