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This Week In Washington


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<br>This Week In Washington

This week I had the opportunity to host the Eighth Annual Defense Trade Show at Fayetteville Technical Community College with North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan along with the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce. This event is a perfect opportunity for North Carolina businesses to interact with one another. It is also a great opportunity to show off our businesses to the defense industry.

The defense sector is one of the fastest growing industries in North Carolina. This trade show and the accompanying workshops provided information and opportunity for businesses to learn about working through government procurement. Workshops included information about doing business with the government; tools to identify, compete for and win federal contracts; small business programs in federal procurement; leveraging General Service Administration schedules and other contract opportunities; writing basic proposals; and accelerating small business growth.

During the event, I heard from folks all across our state who are utilizing their skills to create products and services for our brave men and women in uniform. From all-terrain vehicles to Kevlar vests with new radar technology, North Carolina is fertile ground for defense-industry advancement.

As our traditional industries continue to struggle in this recession, we must explore all options to create economic development and jobs in our area.

Earlier this year, Gov. Perdue's office and the N.C. Military Business Center announced that U.S. Department of Defense spending in North Carolina had increased 22 percent in 2008. More than $3.6 billion in defense-related spending took place in 2008, a $657 million increase from 2007. The total economic impact is said to be near $23.4 billion statewide.

It has become even more important to focus on expanding our defense industry. Fort Bragg continues to grow. The 2005 Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) is relocating Force Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters to the base by 2011. BRAC will bring thousands of new families to our district.

As we continue to work to bring more federal funding to the area to support the expansion, our focus must also be on expanding North Carolina's aftermarket military industry.

Throughout the entire Eighth District, smart and innovative entrepreneurs are coming up with all different types of creative, new ideas that could translate into products or services that would help our armed services as they protect our nation. These businesses don't have to be located near Fort Bragg to take part in the defense sector.

One industry which I believe would translate well into a military application is the engineering innovation in NASCAR. The Eighth District has benefited from the rapid growth of NASCAR in the last few years. Colleges and trade schools in the area are churning out some of the smartest, most creative engineering students. While all industries struggle in this tough economy, we should encourage these bright minds to translate their ideas into military applications.

Safety technologies like soft walls and head/neck restraints have been at the forefront of racing engineering for several years. These types of innovations could lead to products that make our troops safer as they do their important work across the world.

As we continue down the road toward economic recovery, we must explore every option available to create jobs for our hard-working folks in the Eighth District. I believe one of those options must be improving the already strong relationship between North Carolina business and the military.

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