Montana businesses have been awarded $500 to $700 million annually in federal government contracts over the past few years. On Wednesday companies large and small looking to win work rubbed shoulders with 40 national, state and private contractors at the annual GovMatch event in Billings.
Amee Patrick runs Montana Land and Tree LLC out of Nye. She and her business partner specialize in fuels reduction and creating defensible space to protect against wildland fires.
She’s worked as a subcontractor on FEMA projects before, but now she’s hoping to work directly with federal agencies.
"It's like a tightrope," she says. "You've got to take that step out. You’ve got to take the initial step. Today is that initial step for us but we have that safety net of knowledge under us and experience and time, 30 plus years of time. We're happy to be of service. I think it’s just pure joy, actually."
Patrick pulls out a map of the room to check her tick list for the day.
"We've talked with the Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife, the Army Corps of Engineers. We'll definitely sit down with the National Park Service, Yellowstone County, Montana Department of Transportation. There's a list," she says.
Wednesday’s round of potential contract match-making was hosted by Big Sky Economic Development and the Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Center, or PTAC. It’s a local affiliate of a national program that connects businesses with government work, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Deanna Langman is PTAC’s Montana program manager. She says Montana companies win federal contracts ranging from building portions of the southern border wall to catering to arts and entertainment.
"Of course we think of these multimillion dollar contracts and we certainly have companies in our state that win those," Langman says. "But many times it's just a nice piece of business, a much smaller piece of business. A lot of those add up. It’s pretty meaningful when you have a lot of smaller contracts. It’s still an economic impact."
This year larger companies like Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin that award subcontracts also came, at the request of Montana’s Washington, D.C. delegation.