Friday, February 19, 2010

Federal contracts for our small and minority businesses

Continuing an exciting week focused on job creation, at my request, Chairman Bennie Thompson (MS-2) and the Homeland Security Committee staff were at Penn Valley Community College today. The capacity event focused on helping small and minority-owned businesses learn how to do business with the Department of Homeland Security.

The Chairman and I, along with 150 business owners, spent the day with one focus: connecting federal prime contractors looking for sub-contractors with local businesses looking for work.

One of the best moves I made after my election to Congress was to speak with the Speaker of the House about an appointment to the House Homeland Security Committee. I wanted an opportunity to work with this panel, and devote my time to the incredibly important agenda set forth by this Committee. In 2005, the Homeland Security Committee was made a permanent committee, and was given jurisdiction of Congressional oversight for the Department of Homeland Security. In his role as Chair, Bennie Thompson has unapologetically and repeatedly demanded that the major contractors of that huge Department, which spend billions of dollars annually with vendors, spread the dollars among small and minority businesses. This is about connecting federal dollars to local jobs and I was proud to host the Chairman.

This was truly a unique experience. We had 15 federal department procurement chiefs in one place talking to small businesses from our community. This never happens outside of Washington, D.C. and I am happy to say, because of today’s success there will be many more sessions like this.

Before today, exactly zero businesses in the Fifth District had contracts to do work for the Department of Homeland Security. As I told the crowd and the federal officials assembled, if the conversations and instruction that happened today do not lead to money contracts for Fifth District businesses, I am going to be one unhappy committee Member. We can do the work required and I hope now our businesses are first in line.