FREDERICKSBURG, Va. –
During his opening remarks, the Department of the Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs Director Jimmy Smith described small businesses as essential to helping the Navy face the growing number of challenges in defense of our nation. “We have to use small businesses as a weapon because of their ability to pivot with agility to provide capability to the people who need it in relevant time,” he said.
Smith served as the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division's (NSWCDD) 2022 Outreach and Industry Day keynote speaker. The event, held at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia on May 18, promoted a wide array of opportunities to area small and large business industry partners hoping to team with NSWCDD. Over 200 participants attended the first live version of the event since the last one in 2019. Industry Day had been all virtual for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NSWCDD’s economic impact is felt far and wide in the business and surrounding local communities. It is the largest federal research and development employer in Virginia and features an annual budget of $1.8 billion. Of its 4,921 employees, 80% are part of the technical workforce. Dahlgren is successful in exceeding its goals in contracting with small businesses and is considered highly rated in the Procurement Surveillance Program.
Industry Day featured briefings from NSWCDD Commanding Officer Capt. Phil Mlynarski, Technical Director Dale Sisson, SES, and Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Clift. They all spoke about Dahlgren’s strategic thrust and the reliance on industry partners for continued growth and innovation.
“What’s driving our sense of urgency is that our adversaries are operating in odd ways and it stresses our warfighting thought processes and technologies,” said Sisson. “It is the most distressing environment that I’ve seen in my career. We can worry about it or we can turn that into the energy that drives us forward.”
For Clift, partnering with small businesses is key to the nation’s defense. “The country and the warfighter need us to come together,” she commented during her presentation. “We have tools in our toolbox to leverage each other’s capabilities and do things faster and more cost-effective while protecting each other’s intellectual property.”
During the afternoon session, attendees met with department heads and other NSWCDD staff to discuss the five strategic goals that were outlined earlier in the day: developing future technologies, delivering transformational information technologies, workforce development, effective communication strategies and providing modern business solutions.
Bowhead Director of Operations Heather Jennings found value in attending Industry Day even though she’s already based at Dahlgren. “As a contractor, you know what your strengths are but you don’t always know where they align with where the government is headed,” she said. “Learning about what Dahlgren needs for things like model-based systems engineering help contractors prepare to provide better services. That information tells me that there’s a need for me to hire more engineers with that background.”