PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The Picatinny chapter of the National Contract Management Association held a small business symposium May 11 at the Skylands in Randolph,N.J., creating an opportunity for discussions between government officials and private companies seeking business opportunities with government agencies.

The symposium included seminars, panel discussions and networking sessions to assist local small businesses interested in contracting with federal and state government agencies. The symposium attracted more than 350 attendees.

The symposium offered introductory level information aimed at businesses that are new to the government marketplace, as well as intermediate level subjects for businesses with previous exposure to government contracting.

Eric Bankit, Associate Director of the Office of Small Business Programs at Picatinny Arsenal, spoke about how companies can do business with the federal government.

Henry Goldfine, a patent attorney for the U.S. Armament Research,Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny,spoke about "Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Government Contracting."

The two were joined by various other presenters on topics such as New Jersey's Veteran's Business Outreach, Risk Management and Accounting, and Delivering a Winning Proposal.

Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen stressed the significant impact that Picatinny Arsenal has not only on the local community but on the entire Army.

"Every deployed Soldier carries a piece of Picatinny in his or her inventory," the congressman said, referring to some of the products designated as "Army's Greatest Inventions" that have been developed and fielded over the years.

"Last year Picatinny did $69 million in contracts in New Jersey businesses alone," he added.

Yet there is still room for improvement.

Barbara Machak, Executive Director of the Enterprise and Systems Integration Center at ARDEC, asked for a show of hands as to who has already done business with Picatinny.

Only a handful of arms were raised, prompting Machak to smile and say,"Now I'm excited. New ideas."

Michael S. Klein, Co-Chairperson of the NCMA Small Business Symposium, said this year's gathering was the first small business outreach event that has been offered in recent years.

"Outreach events such as the small business symposium are essential to the greater goal of developing a competitive, diverse, and innovative supplier base for our customers at Picatinny Arsenal," Klein said.

Frelinghuysen also noted that the path to getting a working contract with the government could sometimes be burdensome.

"I'm keenly aware of the challenges small and big size businesses run into when trying to gain contracts with the government," he said,praising the value of events such as the symposium.

To view a list of participating organizations, log on to www.smallbizopps.org.