Northern Wings Repair, Inc. is a small Veteran-owned business that punches well above its weight. The company has only 20 employees (about a third of them Veterans), yet it provides parts and services to clients like NASA, Honeywell, and for the last five years, Boeing.

The Wisconsin-based business is one of dozens on hand for the National Veterans Small Business Conference in Detroit, along with the associated Veteran Hiring Fair and VA Open House. I’ll be talking about that, along with the associated Veteran Hiring Fair and VA open house all this week.

First up: the small business conference.

Veteran-owned businesses have come to maximize opportunities in the federal marketplace and connect with federal procurement decision makers from across the government. Among them is Northern Wings Repair, which has a booth in a sea of displays large and small in the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.

The conference center is crammed with training sessions focused on things like business requirements and acquisition forecasting. The sessions are well underway, with more than 200 planned for the entire conference.

Brandon Arents, a sales representative at Northern Wings Repair, said the company comes to events like the small business conference to meet and network with potential clients. Every event seems to attract at least one more business relationship, he said.

While some businesses in attendance are fully established, others are just starting out. Colley’s Inventions, founded by George Colley, is essentially a collection of prototypes built to help disabled Vets and stroke victims rehabilitate with custom treadmill seats that allow people to exercise one leg at a time. It’s a creative solution to a long-term problem of lower body rehabilitation, and George might find his big connection at the conference.

Businesses hope to always expand, of course, which makes events like the conference all the more important for Veteran-owned businesses. Veterans hire Veterans, the mantra goes, and in a time when Veteran unemployment is too high, events that boost networking and partnerships—and eventually growth—can greatly improve a Veteran’s chance of meaningful employment.

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Published on Jun. 26, 2012

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  1. Guy Manningham June 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    This is the first I’ve heard of the National Veterans Small Business Conference. I’m going to have to check it out next year. It sounds like a great project. My men’s magazine is proudly veteran owned and I hire mostly vets to keep it going. Thanks for the info!

  2. Ghulam Sangi June 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I separated after two tours in Afghanistan, and opened my own company but had no contact with federal decision makers and prime contractors. But, let me share this good news, in just one day on June 26, I met with more than 15 decision makers and attended three training events and two networking events!!! Thank you VA for great work in organizing this wonderful event for vets!!!

  3. muondo June 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    your work is very important for us…we are proud of this blog!

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