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Local contractors look to secure deals at military trade show

Posted August 1

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— More than 100 contractors from North Carolina and beyond gathered Monday for the 15th Annual North Carolina Defense and Economic Development Trade Show at Fayetteville Technical Community College.

Andrew Barnes, a military contractor from Apex, said he attended the trade show to make connections and hopefully land a lucrative military contract for his services. His company makes parts for more than a dozen companies that produce AR-15 rifles.

"We know that it's difficult and harder to get from a smaller company, but we also know that the Department of Defense has in place certain programs set aside for small business," Barnes said.

The event, sponsored by North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, is about networking and serves as an educational opportunity for some of the smaller military contractors. The competition to get the contracts is stiff.

"The biggest thing is making sure that we are in front of the soldiers and the decision makers because we are fighting against a product that costs over $100 and we are significantly more expensive than that," said Mike Witt, a military contractor.

The military is a $66 billion business in North Carolina. There are about 190 defense and aerospace companies that are based in the state.

Mabry Martin, the chairman of the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission says there is room for more.

"There are opportunities to grow, to get more business contractors to come to North Carolina and do business in North Carolina," Martin said. "It helps the economy and also does great things to support our national defense."


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