As the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.” With nearly $1.8B in military construction scheduled over the next five years at Marine Corps installations in Eastern North Carolina following Hurricane Florence, a small delegation of military leaders and 800 representatives from 130 companies came together at the Wilmington Convention Center Oct. 24, eager to learn from each other what it will take to build resilient infrastructure for the next generation of Marines and Sailors.
“We are on the precipice of executing a tremendous amount of money in a relatively short period of time,” said Col. Todd Ferry, deputy commander of Marine Corps Installations East–Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, delivering remarks to those in attendance at the 2019 Southeast Region Federal Construction, Infrastructure and Environmental Summit. “But we can’t do it without some very creative thinking from you guys, the professionals.”
The summit was the third such event hosted by the North Carolina Military Business Center and designed to get the military and the construction industry talking about how to execute 31 construction projects combined into seven separate packages to replace aging infrastructure damaged during Florence.
Scott Dorney, executive director of the NCMBC, acknowledged the potential opportunities such a large scope of work will bring to this area and expressed faith in the vendors on hand. “It is an amazing amount of work and the expectation that this will be awarded in FY20 is a huge challenge,” he said. “Whether you are a military rep or a government rep, I hope it’ll make a great impression on you the capability we have in small businesses around North Carolina.”
To assist the bases and stations in coordinating recovery work and efficiently managing the projected military construction, U.S. Navy Capt. Richard Hayes, commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid Atlantic announced the standup of a satellite command based at MCB Camp Lejeune known as NAVFAC Florence.
The establishment of this separate command “sets in place a more efficient path to the restoration of facilities on MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS Cherry Point,” according to Mike Andrews, spokesman for NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic. Hayes said the command’s priorities will include a particular focus on performing to plan and meeting the mission-need date. “Together with industry, we want to jointly produce that quality and those best-value solutions in support of our warfighters.”
Ferry also recognized the challenges that lie ahead for the bases and especially the vendors seeking access. “We haven’t been the easiest to work with; our rules and security regulations can be cumbersome. People are eager to work with us but there are issues with gate access; given the number of contractors coming here, we have to be open to thinking differently, because contracting success is our success.”
Ultimately, Dorney says he is confident in abilities of industry to make these military construction projects a success. “Businesses are going to step in and they’re going to be able to accomplish this work, on a timeline, with quality and deliver the facilities that our Marines and our installations really need and deserve.”