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Study Shows Northwest Michigan Companies Lag in Defense Contracting

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Networks Northwest has completed an analysis of the state of Department of Defense (DoD) Contracting in Northwest Lower Michigan. The analysis focused on the current and potential supplier base for the Department of Defense in seven high-tech growth industries. The results of the analysis showed that most counties in Northwest Michigan are underperforming with regards to DoD work compared to similar areas in the country.

The analysis also included a survey of businesses to assess their needs and barriers to pursuing DoD contracts. Of the businesses that participated in the survey, over 70 percent identified locating contracting opportunities as a barrier. The full report can be viewed at nwm.org/DOD.

The analysis was funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Defense Center. Based on the findings, Networks Northwest proposed and was awarded a second year of funding to create the Defense Industry Growth Program (DIGP) to reimburse businesses up to $5,000 for 50 percent of their expenses to pursue DoD contracts. Businesses must be small, headquartered in the 10 counties of the Northwest Lower Peninsula, and fall within at least one of seven advanced industries to qualify. Program and application information are available at nwm.org/digp.

In addition to the DIGP, Networks Northwest is hosting a workshop in Traverse City on January 24 focused on growing Northwest Michigan’s share of DOD contracts. This workshop will focus on DOD specific marketing and finding opportunities, financial assistance that is available including the DIGP mentioned above, and special contracting avenues (SBIR/STTR, OTA). The Army, Navy, Air Force and government primes have been invited to share how to do business with their respective organizations. Updates on the event can be found at nwm.org/DODworkshop.

In addition to the above efforts, Networks Northwest hosts the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) which offers no-cost assistance to businesses who want to sell their products and/or services to the Department of Defense and other government agencies. PTAC services include no-cost marketing, technical consulting, and training to businesses. For more information, go to nwm.org/PTAC.

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Mark Heydlauff, Charlevoix City Manager