Federal agencies have budgeted $297 million in “major military construction” for 2017 in North Carolina, NC Sen. Richard Burr told the opening gathering of The Southeast Region Federal Construction, Infrastructure and Environmental Summit (FEDCON) in Wilmington on Oct. 26.
This work volume continues a strong and continuing presence for military and other federal government construction in the region’s construction economy. “The military executed $7 billion at bases in North Carolina between 2000 and 2013,” he said. “Even now, the North Carolina bases generate several hundred million in business per year.”
“The numbers are there,” Burr said. “There’s a reason we’re here, and it’s a tremendous opportunity.”
Burr, along with Sen. Tom Tillis and upwards of 80 federal officials from 20 different agencies and commands participated in the annual FEDCON conference, said Scott Dorney, executive director of the North Carolina Military Business Centre (NCMBC), which coordinated the annual event.
The 2016 program attracted 650 visitors for an intensive day and a half of networking, business development and education, through one-on-one meetings and sessions outlining various opportunities in the region.
Brig Gen. C. David Turner, commander of the South Atlantic division of the US Army Corps of Engineers, described some of the opportunities from a military perspective.
The massive Fort Bragg military base (the largest in the US) and Seymour Johnson Airforce Base employ tens of thousands of soldiers and civilian staff and have massive construction requirements.
And much of the opportunity in these projects goes to small business. Turner said in fact 60 per cent of the revenue has been going to smaller companies, including upwards of $240 million in annual revenue for service disabled veterans.
New buildings also are environmentally sensitive and “we are approaching the time when new buildings will be carbon neutral,” he said, and there are challenges in dealing with vulnerable costs with climate change.
These challenges and opportunities explain the “importance of nurturing special partners at meetings like these,” Gen. Turner told the gathering. “We depend on (businesses bringing) new creative spark, new technologies to the table, and how we can make the partnership work better.”
Participants could visit trade show booths and arrange one-on-one meetings with primary general contractors to develop partnering and business opportunities, and in specialized sessions, drilled deep into the opportunities within their state and market region. There were also plenty of informal networking and socializing opportunities.
Military officials indicated that they are entering a period of consolidation after several years of explosive expansion, with several unneeded buildings to be demolished, but there are still many opportunities for contractors and vendors as existing buildings are upgraded or repurposed and new construction continues to meet planned operational requirements.
The day ended with a comprehensive report from various military procurement officers about opportunities primarily within North Carolina.
These have been posted on the FEDCON website at http://www.ncmbc.us/fedcon-post-event-information.