Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (center), JobsOhio President JP Nauseef (second from the right), Dayton Development Coalition President and CEO Jeff Hoagland (far right), with representatives from Utah-based IMSAR celebrating a newly awarded contract. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributed
Photo: Contributed

Businesses give the Air Force their best pitch

More than 20 small companies got a chance to pitch products, services and ideas Wednesday to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Carillon Park — and a shot to walk away with potentially millions in new business.

It was the first “Pitch Day” for small businesses held in Dayton, modeled after similar events held in Boston, San Francisco and other cities.

While official award numbers weren’t released Wednesday, millions were at stake for the companies involved.

If AFLCMC — which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — were a private company, it would rank No. 3 on the Fortune magazine “Fortune 500” list, said JP Nauseef, president and chief investment officer for JobsOhio, Ohio government’s private development corporation.

Related: Wright-Patt tops 30K employees for first time in 30 years

Similarly, if Air Force Materiel Command — also based at Wright-Patterson — were a private business, it would find itself among the top 40 of Fortune 500 companies, Nauseef said.

“This is a big deal for all the parties here,” Nauseef said.

A few years ago, landing an Air Force contract in less than a single day was unheard of, said Jeff Hoagland, president and chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition.

“They’re trying to speed up the way they’re doing these acquisitions,” Hoagland said. “They’re trying to connect industry to the needs of Wright-Patt, to help the war-fighter.”

While the pitches were not open to the media, the businesses invited to Wednesday’s event have expertise in cyber-security, communication, depot maintenance on aircraft and other areas in the realm of technology.

They made pitches to leaders in mobility and training systems, presidential and executive airlift, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance software, as well as fighter and bombers, said Daniel Annett, a program manager for AFLCMC.

“At the end of the day, the military is looking for the best and the brightest,” said Mark Kvamme, a venture capitalist at Columbus-based Drive Capital and the founding president of JobsOhio.

Related: Wright-Patt could add 5K jobs in next five years

At least 17 of those companies left with an Air Force contract, in many cases with an initial payment from a government-issued credit card. Twenty-three companies in total made proposals to Air Force decision-makers, Annett said.

“Today, (credit) cards were swiped,” Hoagland said.

“It’s the Air Force’s way to reach out to small businesses, to get their innovative ideas,” Annett said.

The AFLCMC event continues Thursday at Carillon Park.

And Friday, the Air Force Research Laboratory — also anchored at Wright-Patterson — and the Wright Brother’s Institute will host the inaugural Air Force Technology Executive Officer Pitch Day at the Steam Plant, 617 E. Third St. in Dayton, and the Wright Brother’s Institute, 444 E. Second St., also in Dayton.

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