At the end of November, AECOM sponsored and participated in the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) National Small Business Conference. The conference has become one of the preeminent events for SAME, an organization with 30,000-plus members, 105 posts, and more than 50 student chapters and field chapters around the world. SAME unites public- and private-sector individuals and organizations from across disciplines—architecture, engineering, construction, environment, facility management, cyber security, project planning, contracting and acquisition—all working in support of national security. This annual conference brings together businesses, both large and small, and our federal clients for three days of valuable networking and information exchange.

As the small business liaison officer for AECOM’s National Governments business line, I am proud to see our company fully embrace opportunities, such as the SAME conference, to engage with the small business community. For the 2016 conference, I was happy to have the opportunity to provide an education session on driving success through mentor-protégé relationships.

shawn-ralston-at-same_2Shawn Ralston (right) runs the AECOM booth during the SAME Conference in Atlanta, GA, United States.

Overall last year, AECOM supported more than 35 similar conferences where our staff interfaced directly with a wide variety of small businesses. This outreach allows small businesses to learn more about opportunities to work with us while helping strengthen our supplier base. It is also an example of how we honor our commitment to maximize opportunities for small businesses.

Small businesses fuel job growth and innovation and have deep ties to their communities. According to the last survey conducted by U.S. Small Business Association, 2.45 million businesses (nine percent of all U.S. firms) are majority-owned by military veterans. For that survey year, these veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) had sales/receipts of $1.2 trillion, 5.8 million employees, and an annual payroll of $210 billion.

mike-blount-at-same-conferenceMike Blount, SAME President and vice president of Navy Programs for AECOM, opened the second day of the National Small Business Conference.

We have a long and successful history of supporting veterans through subcontracting. Over the past five years, VOSBs have received more than $731 million in subcontracts on AECOM’s federal contracts, representing 9.8% of our total subcontracting dollars. This strong performance has been noticed industry-wide and has led to AECOM being named a Champion of Veterans Enterprise by the National Veteran Small Business Coalition and one of the Top Veteran-Friendly Companies by U.S. Veterans Magazine as well as being recognized for having a Top Military Friendly(R) Supplier Diversity Program by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association. AECOM has also received similar awards for our support of hiring veterans, including being named a Military Friendly Employer by Victory Media.

Whether it is directly hiring veterans, mentoring VOSBs through mentor-protégé programs, or providing training and educational outreach at veteran-focused conferences and events, AECOM is leading the way in supporting our veterans and incorporating their perspectives in our work. I like to think that some of our success has been because of our commitment to working with veterans, and this makes me proud to be here at AECOM.

Originally published Jan 10, 2017

Author: Shawn Ralston