KINGSPORT – There were people in the Kingsport City Schools Tennessee Room with access to a big chunk of change at an event last Thursday to help subcontractors do business with prime contractors, government and large corporations.

BAE Systems employees were front and center.

BAE is the operating contractor for the Kingsport-based Holston Army Ammunition Plant (HAAP), which has been undergoing a huge modernization to make next generation explosives for the American warfighter.

“We want to make the warfighters safer, smarter, faster,” said Janelle Easter, BAE’s small business liaison.

Brooke Boggs, BAE quality manager, said the company has $1 billion under contract as part of the modernization at both HAAP and at a Radford, Va., facility.

“We’re looking to increase that, possibly double in the next three years,” Boggs said. “There is a lot of work … it’s kind of like going down the road at 55 miles an hour and changing the oil … to do that, we need partners.”

Paul Middlebrooks, program manager for the University of Tennessee’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), was the spokesman for doing business with the government.

He advised the group to get registered in the General Services Administration’s “SAM,” also known as the System for Award Management.

“Even if you’re going to market to a large firm … you still need to be in SAM,” Middlebrooks told the group.

There are also a number of web sites, said Middlebrooks, like and with leads to federal contracts.

As part of that SAM registering effort, Middlebrooks noted, the subcontractor must enter a “capability statement.”

“That’s your elevator speech,” Middlebrooks said of the capability statement.

The event was sponsored by BAE, the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship, the University of Tennessee PTAC, the Kingsport Chamber and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at East Tennessee State University.