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The Illinois National Guard Headquarters at Camp Lincoln in Springfield celebrated its 117th birthday July 6 and officials invited local businesses and government officials to learn how to do business with the federal government.
“As we continue to celebrate the Illinois National Guard’s 300th year, I urge each of you to take the time to look at the history of where the Illinois National Guard came from,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Alessia, Director of the Illinois National Guard Joint Staff. “Just last week we commemorated the first shot fired at Gettysburg and that was an Illinois National Guardsman. Look at the history of Santa Anna’s leg, the 106th Cavalry rescuing the Belgium King, and what we accomplished in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II. Every time you look at the things we’ve done throughout our history, it really is amazing. Today is an event which commemorates the anniversary of the start of Camp Lincoln.”
In 1885 Governor Richard J. Oglesby appointed a 5-person board to seek out a permanent base of operations for the Illinois National Guard. Springfield competed against Highland Park, Waukegan, Wilmington, Oregon, Quincy, Ottawa, and Kankakee. The cost of the initial 160 acres was $18,100, of which Springfield residents raised $3,100 and the city paid $15,000. The first building constructed on Camp Lincoln was a horse stable for 100 horses, a quartermaster house and an icehouse.
Today, Camp Lincoln is home to the 233rd Military Police Company, the medical detachment headquarters, Company C, 634th Brigade Support Battalion, Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment, 232 Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3637th Maintenance Company, Recruiting and Retention Battalion headquarters and several smaller units, including the 129th Regiment (Regional Training Institute) which serves as the training facility for the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School, as well as Information Technology, Culinary Arts and transportation reclassification courses plus other classes and seminars.
“Today there are more than 550 full-time employees and approximately 2,000 traditional Illinois National Guard members in Springfield,” said Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, Director of Public Affairs, Illinois National Guard. “That translates into approximately $70 million in annual payroll for Sangamon County.”
Alessia said the second portion of the event was to educate local businesses and officials on how to do business with the federal government.
“We are always interested in doing business with local businesses,” Alessia said. “If we can help out local businesses and the local economy that is what we’d like to try and do.”
Lt. Col. Mark Williams, supervisory contract specialist, U.S. Property and Fiscal Office for Illinois, presented an overview of the requirements for a business to participate in government contracting programs.
“In fiscal year 2022, the Illinois National Guard had approximately $4.8 million in small business-eligible contracts,” Williams said. “To date in fiscal year 2023, the Illinois National Guard has approximately $17.6 million in small business-eligible contracts.”
Williams said businesses and government entities must be properly registered and have identification numbers, and if competing for contracts specified for small businesses, meet the business size standards set by the Small Business Administration. Businesses must also register with SAM, the official United States government system for contract opportunities, maintain compliance, and meet cybersecurity requirements.
“To sell goods and services to the government, you must meet certain requirements,” Williams said. “It is not a same day approval system, so if you see a contract you would like to bid and the closing date is tomorrow, you won’t be able to bid on that contract (unless you are already registered to do business with the federal government through SAM.gov).”
Williams talked about set-asides for government contracting programs.
“Some government contracting programs are available only for businesses which meet the requirements for specific categories, such as small businesses, women owned businesses, small, disadvantaged businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses,” he said. “Businesses must meet certain requirements to be placed in one of those categories, but there are benefits available for these businesses.”