Central New York is home to several businesses that provide technology and products to the Department of Defense. Most of the companies that secure these contracts are not massive defense firms; rather they are smaller organizations that meet a specific need for the federal government.
Several local companies gathered Thursday at the Central New York Philanthropy Center to see if they might be able to secure a contract from the government as have other businesses have in the region. Dan Maffei, Congressional Representative for New York’s 24th District, says small businesses play an integral role in some of the processes of major defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin and SRC Tech.
“You see a lot of the smaller businesses providing them with materials and various services: subcontracting. So actually, Central New York is a hub for major defense contracting and other kinds of contracting with the federal government.”
The types of businesses that receive these contracts are often far from the armor and weapons developers that typically come to mind. Allred and Associates in Elbridge is an example of a company that has earned several federal contracts to sell the government their lightweight ladder. Dr. Joe Kummer, a principal scientist for the company, says once the business was established within the government, they quickly expanded to other branches.
“Just going out there and making the connections before we started getting orders from the Navy Seals and Army Rangers. Now we sell them to the FBI, DEA… but it took two to three years for us to get the credibility where people realized the benefit.”
Defense contracts are evolving, not only in the types of companies that are receiving the contracts, but the types of issues that are receiving federal funds through the Department of Defense. Breast cancer research is one area where businesses have actually received defense contracts to investigate. Congressman Maffei says this is a result of an increasing number of women in the Armed Forces, which brought breast cancer research into the foreground for the Department of Defense.
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Maffei says there are organizations both in Central New York, as well as within the Federal Government, that can help small businesses with the process of applying for defense contracts. Maffei is also on the campaign trail, preparing for November's election against Republican challenger John Katko.