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Remarks at 2013 Marketplace

June 5, 2013
Remarks at 2013 Marketplace

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, May 29th, Reps. David Price (NC-04) and G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) teamed with representatives from several government agencies, as well as prime contractors to host Marketplace, a procurement workshop designed to help small businesses identify contracting opportunities with sponsors and other buyers. Hundreds of registrants attended the day-long workshop at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham's Research Triangle Park. Rep. Price will open the event with remarks. The text of his remarks is below.

Good morning! I'm pleased to be able to join you today to kick off Marketplace 2013! I want to extend a special thanks to Lisa Ruckdeschel and to Scott Daugherty, both for the introductory remarks and for their personal commitment and contributions to this event over the years.

In addition to Scott and Lisa and the Small Business Technology Development Center, I'd like to recognize our federal government co-hosts: the Small Business Agency, the EPA, and the Department of Health and Human Services, represented locally by NIEHS.

What began in 1989 as a fledgling idea to help small, local, and minority-owned businesses secure contracts with federal agencies has grown into an annual gathering that brings together dozens of government representatives and prime contractors with small businesses seeking to learn more about the procurement process.

Each year, Marketplace also provides an opportunity for us to take stock of our changing economy and changing contracting environment. One change of note is that Durham County's representation in Congress is now split among four members, including my co-host of this event, Congressman G.K. Butterfield, who will be joining you later in the day.

I unfortunately must be away part of the day, but I do look forward to joining the congressional briefing this morning. My longtime staff member Tracy Lovett—who has played an instrumental role in organizing this event as a member of the Marketplace Committee—will be on site all day, so please don't hesitate to let Tracy know how my office can be of assistance to you and your business.

Thanks to the hard work of Tracy and other members of the Marketplace Committee, this year we have 45 exhibitors, including 19 prime contractors.

We also have two concurrent seminars—one for participants new to the contracting process and one for experienced participants. This year's event will also feature seminars on Strategic Sourcing and International Trade, which are both increasingly important to businesses of all sizes.

For our small- and medium-sized business participants, I encourage you to take full advantage of these opportunities to connect personally with procurement officers, share best practices and strategies, and educate yourselves on new and emerging issues in federal contracting.

For our government and prime contractor representatives, I urge you to take full advantage of the wealth of talent, entrepreneurialism, and creative thinking that our Triangle small businesses have to offer.

There is simply no better place in the country to forge innovative public-private partnerships that make government smarter and more effective while creating jobs and growing the local economy. Indeed, this is the very spirit that has defined our region and made it one of the greatest places in the country to work, live, do business, and raise a family.

This year, your conversations will be occurring amid mixed economic signals. On the one hand, the economy continues to improve slowly but steadily. Unemployment is at four-year lows nationally and is finally below 9% in North Carolina, and the Triangle continues to lead the state in job creation and economic growth.

The challenges that have hampered small businesses in recent years—dried-up credit, rising energy costs, flagging demand—haven't gone away, but things are certainly better than they were a couple years ago.

At the same time, just as things are looking up in the economy as a whole, our elected leaders in Raleigh and in Washington seem bent on undermining the recovery with one self-inflicted wound after another. In Washington it's debilitating gridlock, in Raleigh "Katy bar the door!"

Of course, the most absurd and devastating self-inflicted wound imposed by Congress are the automatic, indiscriminate spending cuts known as sequestration, which are also the most directly relevant to many of you here.

We are beginning to feel the impact of these senseless cuts across the federal government—from air traffic controllers to Head Start to cancer research—and they are certainly affecting the contracting decisions of federal agencies, both by reducing procurement budgets and by creating perpetual fiscal uncertainty.

Sequestration was never intended to take effect—but now that it has, many in Congress seem to have lost their appetite for replacing it with a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. I am certainly not in this number, so you can be assured that I will continue to work with like-minded colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get us back on a more rational path. By That I mean continued attention to the economic recovery, a sustainable fiscal path, and investments for an expansive economic future in education and training, research, infrastructure, innovation and entrepreneurship. That's the formula that brought us both balanced budgets and a roaring economy in the 1990s, and we've got to find our way to a comprehensive approach once again.

In the meantime, it's more important than ever that North Carolina businesses are prepared to compete and win so that we can keep creating jobs and helping our companies grow, even in these uncertain times.