Louisville District hosts first ever virtual Open House

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published Feb. 1, 2021

The Louisville District hosted its annual open house Jan. 28, but this year’s event looked a little different. 

In lieu of canceling the annual in-person event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Louisville District decided to improvise with a safe alternative by making the entire event virtual through a web videoconferencing application. 

“While it is tough to truly recreate the in-person experience using Webex, it is our goal with this agenda to provide you with as much information as possible to enable everyone to deliver quality projects on time and within budget,” said Louisville District Commander Col. Eric Crispino to the online audience of more than 400 participants.

Like years past, the event was open to all businesses, both large and small, interested in working with the Louisville District. The event included briefings from Louisville District staff in the morning and opportunities to network through Webex with district staff in the afternoon.

“The open house is a great opportunity for firms to learn about the projects within the Louisville District,” said Crystal Harbin, Louisville District Small Business deputy. “We focused the event on providing the forecast for the remainder of the current fiscal year, along with early FY22 projects. This gave firms an opportunity to hear more about the projects, ask questions and make informed business decisions going forward.”

Last fiscal year the Louisville District executed 2,242 contract actions, which accounted for about $1.5 billion in contract obligations. Small business awards comprised about 37 percent of the district’s overall program last year, according to Crispino. 

“The outlook for our district’s programs in 2021 is favorable, and I anticipate a workload very similar to 2020,” Crispino said. “We work hard to keep our forecasts as accurate as possible because we acknowledge how important it is for all of you to see what is coming and to prepare. Good open communication is critical for you to be successful, and we hope this session enables you to form relationships and understand the opportunities we are projecting for the year.”

Approximately 462 contractors registered for the virtual event, representing states from all over the country to include Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Maryland and Michigan. With attendees not having to physically travel into Louisville to attend, it was much easier for contractors to participate. 

“I was expecting attendance to be a little low this year given we’re working in a virtual environment and networking can be difficult when you’re not face-to-face, but to my surprise registrations just kept coming,” Harbin said.

Crispino was very happy with the event and received good feedback during his open networking session.

“A lot of former district commanders joined to chat with us and provided feedback,” Crispino said. “They offered high praise for the professionalism and format of the event and specifically praised the Louisville District Deputy for Small Business, Crystal Harbin.” 

According to Harbin, she was pleasantly surprised with the success of the event this year. 

“Everything seems to be a little tougher in the COVID environment, but we have all adapted well, and we’re all willing to go the extra mile to ensure we’re not missing key events like this one,” Harbin said. “I believe we’re learning new ways to do business, and this gave us an opportunity to reach firms, especially small businesses, that may not have been able to expend resources to attend in person. I’m eager to see what future events hold as we gain valuable lessons moving forward.”