Local News

Building Business Rally: Let’s do business

13 01 business rally 1If you are a local business owner or are looking to start a new venture, the Building Business Rally, which will be held on Jan. 30, is a must for you.

“This could have one of the biggest impacts on keeping dollars local than any other event this year,” said Christine Michaels, president and CEO of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber.

The event will be held at the Ramada Plaza, 1707 Owen Dr., from 2-6 p.m., and features purchasing and procurement representatives for Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s largest buyers who have over $1 billion of needs and opportunities for local vendors, regardless of your business.

“To have the purchasing staff from the major companies and government entities all in one place, and all with dollars to spend, is an unbelievable opportunity for local businesses to make the right connections,” said Michaels.

Robert Van Geons, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, said the Building Business Rally is significant for our community. “These major organizations spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and if they have to go out of Fayetteville/Cumberland County to find businesses to meet their procurement needs, we are exporting that wealth to other people and places,” said Van Geons. “Imagine if we spent all our public dollars here, how much better our community can be. Our hope with events like the Building Business Rally is by educating our entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs, we can build that ecosystem, keep more dollars local and churn that funding through our local economy.”

13 02 UAC012220015The town of Hope Mills is one entity looking to keep their dollars local and will be at the event. In the next five years, the town projects it will spend over $35 million on major projects, including the construction of the John W. Hodges Public Safety Building, design and implementation of the Heritage Park Masterplan, and the Hope Mills Golf Course Masterplan.

“As we continue to see huge increases in future economic development, focusing on our local contractor and vendor base is paramount to the growth of the base of local businesses in this region, “ said Chancer McLaughlin, planning and economic development director for town of Hope Mills. “This event is so important to us because growing our local general contractor pool is vital to creating a sustainable tax base that ultimately results, not only in keeping local companies in business but also helping retain many of the local college students, creating opportunities for employment.”  

The Building Business Rally is part of a communitywide initiative by local elected officials to increase the amount of funding spent locally on the wide range of service, supply and equipment purchased by local government.

Michaels emphasized the event is for every type of business, and the needs of these organizations are not just construction. Suppliers, professional service providers and prime and sub-contractors of all sizes should attend.

“We are educating and engaging local businesses on how to work with us and the types of goods and services we need, “ said city of Fayetteville Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen. “We will be there because it’s vital that our community foster an environment where businesses can thrive and grow. Even though you think you might not belong there, check it out and you may just find an opportunity that’s perfect for you.”

Michaels said one might equate the Building Business Rally to attending a job fair, only here you are connecting your business to organizations that have money to spend and are looking for local vendors to spend it with.

“Having attended a previous rally, I would encourage other businesses to bring materials such as a capability statement that tells them about your services, references that can talk about your performance and business cards because you want to make sure you stand out,” said Michelle Horne, president and CEO of Landart Solutions. “Time is money. It’s exciting to have a one-stop-shop and be able to participate in and find opportunities throughout the community in a short period of time.”

Over 100 businesses are recognizing the potential opportunities available and have already registered to attend the Rally. James Suber, owner of  JS Designs is registered and says as a small business, getting the word out is hard and the event makes that easier for him. “I am looking forward to it because I hope to get the word out about the services we have to offer and hopefully gain business. I think this is a great opportunity for us to introduce ourselves to the community.”

Joel Angarita of BGS Services agrees that as a local small business, his biggest challenge is getting his company’s name out to the community and says the Building Business Rally offers even more than promoting his services. “I also believe by attending, it will help recognize the gaps that aren’t being filled here,” he said.

This is an opportunity to introduce your company to 15 major organizations and tell them how you can help them and find out what they are looking for,” said Ramona Moore, director of sales and marketing for Holiday Inn & Suites West/Fort Bragg.

Even with extensive involvement and a long work history in our community, Moore knows taking advantage of this opportunity is important to her and other local businesses. “As a new hotel, I need to get the word out, and this is the perfect (venue) for that. … I would tell all businesses to take advantage of this great event and don’ t miss this opportunity.”

The Building Business Rally is free to attend. Businesses are encouraged to preregister at www.faybids.com or can register at the door. All registrants will have their company information shared with the participating procurement representatives.
 

Animal pound provides care

08 cat cageThe term pound is still commonly used in American society. Its origin is a mystery, but one belief is that it’s a derivative of impound, meaning an enclosed area. These days, homeless animals are no longer viewed as a public nuisance to be warehoused in substandard facilities and disposed of as quickly as possible. Homeless animals and the care they receive in shelters has changed for the better. Increasingly, the trend across the United States is to design shelters as friendly and inviting community centers where the public can go to relinquish or adopt pets.

“There is an awareness and a willingness to help these animals, and we are confident that we can make an even bigger difference … in the coming years,” Cumberland County Animal Control Director Elaine Smith said in a news release. “Our ultimate goal is to never have to euthanize an adoptable animal, and we appreciate all the help from our community partners, the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society, numerous rescue groups, our volunteers and foster parents.”
Animal Control said 3,012 dogs and cats were adopted locally in 2019, compared to 2,829 in 2018. The number of dogs and cats euthanized by the county dropped by more than 500 from 3,790 in 2018 to 3,241 in 2019. Smith said personnel at Animal Control strive to perform their jobs professionally and thoroughly. They love and care for the animals brought into the shelter, she said, and do their best to find homes for as many of the animals as possible, and only as a last resort, euthanize them.

The Cumberland County Animal Control department has implemented the Fear Free Shelter Program whereby all 48 employees complete studies on the emotional health of animals, animal communication, gentle control techniques and good behavior training. The Fear Free Shelter Program teaches strategies and techniques to reduce fear, anxiety, stress and frustration in the dogs and cats handled by Animal Control staff in the shelter and in the field.

“Our goal at Cumberland County Animal Control is to constantly improve the way we handle and house animals at our shelter so that we minimize the animals’ stress and fear,” Smith said. “We are all animal lovers, so the employees are eager to learn and improve their knowledge and skills.” Future Animal Control employees will be required to obtain certification when they are hired. This training is provided at no cost by the Fear Free Shelter Program.

The public is encouraged to support the thousands of cats and dogs who find their way to the animal shelter annually. Monetary donations can be made to the Animal Enrichment Fund at licensepet.com/cumberlandcountyncdonate. Food, toys or treats can be donated at the shelter. Additionally, Friends of Cumberland County Animal Shelter collects cold-weather dog houses, straw and blankets for outdoor dogs for their comfort and safety during the winter months. 

Residents who would like to donate cold-weather supplies may drop off items at the shelter. The Animal Control Department and Animal Shelter are located off Tom Starling Road, east of Fayetteville.

Fort Bragg heroes killed in combat

07 McKaughlin VillilonFayetteville is struggling with the departure of elements of two 82nd Airborne Division combat teams to the Middle East, where casualties continue to mount. Two paratroopers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan died earlier this month. Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside improvised explosive device. Two other U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne were wounded in the attack, which occurred in the southern province of Kandahar, a spokesman for the division said.

“When our nation called for its best airborne combat engineers to deploy into harm’s way, Staff Sgt. McLaughlin and Pfc. Villalon answered without hesitation,” said Col. Art Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Maj. Gen. James Mingus, the 82nd Airborne Division’s commanding general, added, “These paratroopers represent the very best of our nation and our Army. They will be honored, mourned, but never forgotten, and we are committed to taking care of their families for life.”

The U.S. also has the 82nd’s 1st Brigade Combat Team on duty in the Middle East. The entire unit’s 4,000 paratroopers were deployed following the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. The troops were deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the region, overseen by the Army’s Central Command. Defense officials maintain that the additional soldiers were not a direct response to Soleimani’s death, but rather a continuation of an earlier announcement to beef up America’s military presence in the region, officials said.

McLaughlin and Villalon were assigned to the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg. This was their first combat deployment.  McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with “C” Device, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Combat Action Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge. He was a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Army Advanced Airborne School Jumpmaster Course. McLaughlin is survived by his wife and four children. The couple’s youngest child was born while his father was deployed.
Villalon joined the Army in 2018. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with “C” Device, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge. Villalon is survived by his mother of Chicago, Illinois and father of Brownsville, Texas.

More than 2,400 American troops have died in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion was launched in response to the 9/11 attacks. Most of the 20,000 international troops now in Afghanistan are focused on training and advising Afghan security forces, with a smaller contingent taking part in a counterterrorism mission.

Naval NCO charged with Green Beret’s murder

06 01 Logan MelgarA Navy SEAL has pleaded not guilty after being charged with murder in the strangulation death of a Fort Bragg Green Beret staff sergeant while both were deployed in West Africa a year-and-a-half ago. Special Warfare Operator Chief Tony E. DeDolph was arraigned on charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing and felony murder plus conspiracy, assault, obstruction of justice and burglary, according to court records. DeDolph and three other service members — a fellow SEAL and two Marine Raiders, including Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madera-Rodriguez — were initially charged in the June 4, 2017, death of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in Bamako, Mali, where the men were on a counterterrorism deployment. Madera-Rodriguez was arraigned on charges late last year. The other co-defendants, Staff Sgt. Kevin Maxwell and Navy SEAL Adam C. Matthews, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in 2019. DeDolph’s attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told Military Times Jan. 10 that the government had denied his client’s requests for expert witnesses, which included a criminologist, DNA analyst and forensic pathologist. But the judge in the trial granted the requests. “This case is nothing short of sad for everyone involved,” Stackhouse said. He called Melgar’s death a “tragic accident” that has since “snowballed into an injustice” because of the way it has been handled.

Federal Emergency Management Agency grants local government financial assistance

The state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have announced that more than $1.6 million has been approved to reimburse expenses for damages to the Cumberland County landfill, which was 06 02 Burrow Pitdamaged during Hurricane Florence. Reimbursements include costs for dredging and reconstructing the landfill’s borrow pit after hurricane-related flood damage. A borrow pit is a large hole that has been dug for a particular purpose. FEMA has approved more than $5 million in Hurricane Florence-related expenses for Cumberland County. FEMA’s public assistance program provides grants for state and local governments to reimburse the cost of debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent repair work. FEMA reimburses applicants at least 75% of eligible costs, and the state covers the remaining 25%.

Vets service office recognized

Cumberland County Veterans Services has been ranked No. 1 in the state for distribution of veterans’ affairs expenditures for fiscal year 2018. Cumberland County ranked first in the state with VA expenditures of $897,700,000. VA expenditures include compensation and pension, construction and education and vocational rehabilitation employment.

In a letter to Cumberland County Veterans Services, North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Regional Manager Robert Johnson said, “The news of Cumberland County Veterans Services achieving this prestigious position does not come as any surprise.”

06 03 DMVA Newsletter HeaderNEWSThe Cumberland County Veterans Services Department helps veterans and their dependents obtain benefits to which they are entitled by submitting claims benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The office is located at 301 E. Russell St., Fayetteville. Call 910-677-2970 or go to co.cumberland.nc.us for more information.

VA staff vacancies mount

Despite new incentives to help the Veterans Administration fill vacant staff positions, the number of vacancies rose to nearly 50,000 over the last year, according to the latest federal data. A key Democratic senator wants to know why the employment shortfall isn’t being fixed.

06 04 VA SealIn a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member, Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he has “serious concerns” that officials have not found a way to deal with the department’s “persistent workforce shortage” despite assistance from Congress. “I remain consistently frustrated that VA medical facilities, particularly those in rural areas, are dramatically understaffed,” Tester wrote.

Tester said lawmakers have offered new hiring incentives such as loan repayment and relocation incentives but have been disappointed with the results. VA press secretary Christina Mandreucc said in a statement that many vacancies are attributed to “normal retirements and job changes” and not widespread problems with department hiring practices.

Citizen interest in serving local government is lacking

The city of Fayetteville needs more than 30 citizens to fill vacancies on various advisory boards and commissions. Here are the vacancies the city says need to be filled:
Airport Commission – two openings
Audit Committee – two openings
Fair Housing Board – three openings; one is required to be a real estate representative
Fayetteville Advisory Committee on Transit – four openings; one is required to be a FAST Driver, one is required to be an ADA representative, one is required to be a resident who lives in the FAST service area and one must be a business representative
06 05 citizen participationRedevelopment Commission – two openings
Historic Resources Commission – five openings; one must be a building designer
Linear Park – two openings
Personnel Review Board – three openings
Public Arts Commission – three openings; two are required to be arts council appointees
Planning Commission – two openings
Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission – one opening
Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission – one opening
Applications are being accepted until midnight Jan. 31. All qualified applications will be presented to the city council’s appointments committee in February. The city is accepting applications on its website at www.fayettevillenc.gov.

Organizations collaborate for Building Business Rally

10 business thingSeveral years ago, the Public Works Commission set as a strategic goal increasing our local vendor capacity and engaging local vendors on the many opportunities available to them to provide services and goods to PWC. This came after both hearing concerns of local businesses and many incidents where PWC had to re-bid opportunities because of low or no response.

Among our many initiatives was starting an event to invite local businesses to learn about the millions of dollars we spend on goods and services and future plans and capital projects that businesses could position themselves to be a part of.

 PWC held a “Building Business Rally” in 2016 and 2017. Because of its success, in 2018, we coordinated an expanded Regional Building Business Rally, partnering with nearly 30 organizations and agencies on the event with the hopes of increasing local spending and encouraging local economic development. The Rally is a unique opportunity as a “one-stop” shop for local businesses where they connect to organizations that have money to spend and are looking for local businesses to spend it with.

Since May of 2018, the momentum of this effort has continued. Our Building Local Vendor Capacity Committee set our vision to “maximize local purchasing and procurement opportunities from within our region, thereby enhancing the wealth and health of the community” and our mission to use community collaboration to enhance our local supplier base.

 Collaboration and education are key to our success, and with the support of the Cumberland County’s Mayor’s Coalition, January has been proclaimed as Building Local Business month, with the month culminating with the fourth annual Building Business Rally on Thursday, Jan. 30.

Organizations participating in the Rally are Cumberland County and Fayetteville’s largest buyers, representing over $1 billion in opportunities. They include Cape Fear Valley Hospital System; Cumberland County; Cumberland County Schools; the city of Fayetteville, including FAST and Community Development; Fayetteville State University; Fayetteville Technical Community college; the town of Hope Mills; the town of Spring Lake; North Carolina Department of Transportation; Prince Charles Holdings; PWC; and Vector Fleet Maintenance, which manages the city of Fayetteville fleet.

 Some of the opportunities that will be presented at the rally are PWC’s ongoing needs installing water and sewer services, maintaining our current system and annual repairs and maintenance and upgrades of our electric system. Cumberland County Schools estimates spending $10 million a year on instructional custodial supplies, information technology, and construction, while the town of Hope Mills projects it will spend over $34 million on facilities, public works, transportation, public safety and  stormwater and recreation projects.

The Jan. 30 event utilizes the local business resources of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, and Cumberland County N.C. Works to help businesses find opportunities, structure their business for success and find a qualified workforce.

 To register for the event, which will be held at the Ramada Plaza on Owen Drive from 2-6 p.m., visit www.faybids.com. Bookmark that site as it is a one-stop-shop for local contracting opportunities and local classes and workshops that can benefit your business.

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