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Defense Contractors Still See A Market In San Diego

Vice Admiral Phil Collum talks about the opportunities for small contractors at Navy Gold Coast, Aug. 25, 2015.
Steve Walsh
Vice Admiral Phil Collum talks about the opportunities for small contractors at Navy Gold Coast, Aug. 25, 2015.

Defense Contractors Still See A Market In San Diego
Large and small defense contractors attended the annual Navy Gold Coast conference, which matches defense contractors with contacts at one of their largest customers, the U.S. Navy.

A number of defense contractors are in San Diego for the 27th annual Navy Gold Coast conference, which began Tuesday.

Organizers said the market for defense contractors is still off the high of 2012. But areas such as cyber defense still provide opportunities for companies, even as the overall defense budget continues to shrink.

“I think a lot of companies are staying smaller longer," said Jim Lasswell who owns INDUS Tech Inc. and chairs the group’s small business committee. "A lot of them are staying smaller longer and a lot of them are, you know, evaporating. The market is tenuous but for good companies there are opportunities to excel.”

The Defense Department emphasizes the use of small contractors. In the last several years, Gold Coast has become an event to pair smaller, niche companies with larger defense contractors. Some of the larger firms on hand were Lockheed Martin and Qualcomm.

Among the most challenging issue for large and small companies is navigating the federal bureaucracy. The Navy is aware of the challenge.

“I think a lot of this is about connecting the right dots," said Vice Adm. Phil Cullom, who is in charge of logistics and procurement for the Navy.

This is the largest event of its kind in the country. More than 1,300 people are scheduled to attend the two day conference at the Convention Center.

In 2012, organizers said roughly 1,500 people attended. That was in the day before the partial budget shutdown and Congress and the president passed the compromise dubbed sequestration, which imposed automatic cuts in the defense budget.