TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The Department of Defense has a long history of relying on the small business industrial base to support its efforts at home and abroad. Small Businesses account for over ninety-nine percent of all employer firms and generate in excess of 40 percent of the United States economic activity. The Air Force Sustainment Center Small Business office is responsible for finding those small businesses and connecting them with the U.S. Air Force to become vendors.
“Small businesses are vital to the DOD industrial base and the small business office is striving to reduce barriers and entice more small businesses to become AFSC enterprise partners,” said Ronald Hobbs, director of Small Business for AFSC.
Since 2010, the number of small businesses supporting the DOD has dropped by 40 percent; in the last five years alone there have been over 17,000 companies lost due to mergers and consolidation. Hobbs is committed to streamlining the approval process, removing barriers and entice more small businesses to support AFSC.
“We are currently spearheading a four-part plan to engage, inform, and streamline the processes to do business with our partners. If we truly plan to be prepared for the next fight, we have to change how we operate. We must reduce the barriers to entry and lower the cost of working with the DOD,” said Hobbs.
AFSC has a total of 14 small business acquisition professionals at three separate locations to delivering innovative, effective and agile small business solutions. Their mission is to connect small business capabilities to AFSC requirements.
Hobbs said, “There are two reasons why I feel we need this support. First, we have an aging Organic Industrial Base infrastructure. We need local small businesses to support these much needed upgrades. Second, we are supporting legacy platforms. The longer we support these platforms, we face ever increasing challenges with obsolescence and supply chain supportability. We will continue to rely on small businesses to provide these parts and goods until we divest or acquire new equipment.”
Hobbs said relying on local community business partners is key to maintaining a solid industrial base and developing strong community partners. The contracts obtained through the DOD can support a small community for years to come, whereas within larger communities this can help provide employment and opportunities, enticing new businesses and spurring economic development.
The reliance on local small businesses can also improve predictability and reliability of parts and services needed to support the mission. Small businesses historically have been able to quickly and effectively react to changing demands, ultimately providing the Air Force with resiliency in accomplishing missions.
There are basic criteria that small businesses must meet to be a certified contractor with the DOD. These requirements can be found here.
For more information on how to become a contractor for the DOD, visit the Air Force Sustainment Center Small Business page to find out more.