The Howard County Chamber of Commerce has been fortunate to have had influential and thoughtful volunteer leadership and highly capable staff. This combination of talent has allowed it to be at the forefront of creating or assisting in the development of impactful business and community development programs. These programs include the Leadership Howard County program (1986) and the Howard County Economic Development Authority (1995).

Nearly six years ago, several Chamber board members recognized the impact the federal government community was having, and would continue to have, on the local economy, and thus GovConnects was born.

GovConnects was created as a business-to-government program whose focus was to provide federal contractors with key intelligence on federal agency and military installation procurement opportunities. It also has sought to serve as the trusted source for information that is important to current and potential government contractors, and to provide regular opportunities for members to meet and interact with key officials. The Chamber has fulfilled these objectives through myriad programs ranging from seminars to conferences, breakfast meetings and private, industry-focused networking events.

While it has taken time for the program to hit its stride, the Chamber and its dedicated band of volunteers have high hopes for the future of GovConnects. Over the last year the Chamber has streamlined programs, seeking fewer, higher-quality events and programs rather than a plethora of less substantive offerings. As such, GovConnects attendees are able to frequent quarterly breakfasts with agency acquisition and grants officers and small business offices. Other programs include the bimonthly CFO Roundtable and the quarterly Executive Networking events. Also falling under the auspices of GovConnects is the Women In Government Contracting Leadership Forum and Cyber Conference.

Always looking to enhance its programs and offerings, the Chamber has broadened the government reach and is now delving into state procurement. The program is also exploring business opportunities beyond defense and cyber, having hosted representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Health and Human Services, NASA-Goddard and Social Security, to name a few. The Chamber is also exploring an industry day, which would be a 2018 initiative should it come to pass.

The GovConnects program will continue to evolve and change. While change is constant, the Chamber’s dedication to government contractors will remain.