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HASBAT Celebrates 20 Years: “Small Business Can do the Job,” Says President

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – A sometimes wistful Phil Carey, president of the Huntsville Association of Small Businesses in Advanced Technology (HASBAT) looked back over two decades as the group celebrated 20+ years with a celebration Tuesday evening at the Jackson Center in Cummings Research Park.

“We’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve stayed true to our mission of informing the contracting community here in Huntsville about the advantages of contracting with small business.”

Four of the ten original founders who signed the founding documents in late 1993 were on hand for the celebration. Nancy Auchuleta, former president of Mevatec, a small engineering services contractor, described the evening as “an auspicious event” following a champagne toast to the organization’s future success.

“I have seen how a dream can take hold and grow,” she said. “Together you make a powerful voice.”

Carey said the movement to found a Huntsville-based organization to promote the interests of small business in federal contracting grew largely as a response to “bundling,” the practice of lumping several formerly small federal contracts together into a larger package. The aim was to achieve economies in contracting, but Carey said the practice made it very difficult for small businesses to compete.

“It was difficult for small businesses to compete for work, and we felt small business needed a collective voice in order to level the playing field,” he said. “Our mission is to present a single voice of small business owners to the government.”

Another goal was to promote the “rule of two,” a rule under which federal contracting officials must set aside most contracts over $100,000 for small business as long as at least two qualified small businesses can be identified.

“They used to have large businesses like Boeing to prime these contracts.  That’s what we would try to overcome: this idea that small businesses could not do the job.”

Carey said HASBAT member’s lower contracting rates have helped the government, especially the Defense Department, achieve savings in light of recent budget cuts.

Today HASBAT boasts about 150 members, with about 125 as full technical members, Carey said.  The group incorporated several years ago as a 501-c-3 non profit organization.

“We’re in one of the best positions we’ve been in in years,” adding that the group has an “understood goal” of growing to 200 members.

HASBAT’s aim has been to bring top procurement officials of Huntsville’s major military and NASA together with small business owners, presidents, and business development managers.

This typically takes place at regular monthly luncheon meetings, where the list of speakers has included directors of all the major commands based at Redstone Arsenal, as well their small business liaisons and other procurement officials.

Realizing the importance to small business of who represents Alabama’s 5th congressional district, HASBAT held candidate forums in 2010 and 2012 for both Republican and Democrat candidates.

Carey challenged the membership to “continue to support HASBAT especially in light of the budget challenges we are facing.”

November 19, 2014

Mike Kelley By Mike Kelley

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