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Adams and Reese Government Affairs Advisor Laura DiBella was a guest speaker on global aerospace defense contracting opportunities at the 2024 American Small Business Contracting Summit, held in Washington, DC, and attended by hundreds of small businesses throughout the country connecting with representatives from 17 federal agencies.

The Summit is organized by the Defense Leadership Forum, a national public service organization bringing together Congressional leaders, Pentagon officials, military base commanders, and business representatives. The national event helps federal agencies meet the government-wide statutory contracting goals of 23% for small businesses.

Federal departments and agencies participating in the Summit included: DOD Pentagon, Defense Innovation Unit, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, NASA, NITAAC, SBA, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and U.S. Navy.

DiBella was a special guest speaker joined by additional presenters Karla Smith Jackson, Senior Procurement Executive, NASA; Larry Hale, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, GSA; Rosetta Rodwell, Acting Director, Office of Government Contracting, SBA; Darlene Bullock, Executive Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), DHS; Kimberly Buehler, Director, Army Small Business Programs Office; Terressa Bebout, Technical Director of Small Business Strategy, Naval Air Systems Command; and Amir Baghenpour, Vice President of Strategic Missions and Technologies, Accenture.

The global Aerospace and Defense market has grown at an 11.5% compound annual growth rate just in the past year, and is projected to grow at about half that through 2028. Small businesses constitute 99.9% of all U.S. businesses, 73% of companies in the defense industrial base, and more than half of all American employees work for a small business.

At Adams and Reese, DiBella is a Government Affairs Advisor in the law firm’s Intersection of Business and Government (IBG) Practice. She works in the firm’s Tallahassee office. DiBella was Florida’s first female Secretary of Commerce. She was also the former FloridaCommerce President of Business Development and Enterprise Florida President/CEO.

DiBella has an aviation industry pedigree, serving as Chair of the Aerospace Alliance. In her economic development role with the state, DiBella recruited global aerospace and defense companies to Florida, along with those in the niche eVTOL aircraft industry. DiBella is a certified maritime port executive, the former Florida Harbor Pilots Association Executive Director, and Fernandina Ocean Highway and Port Authority Port Director.

DiBella began her role with Adams and Reese in February 2024. She brings more than 25 years of experience in economic development and government relations strategy, lobbying for clients at the legislative and executive branches with knowledge of state and local government processes, and assisting them in site selection, recruitment, and retention project assistance. Across the nation, DiBella works with domestic and international businesses looking to maximize their investment opportunities.