Companies Eye Growing Business in Homeland Security

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Homeland security means business for contractors providing emergency equipment, threat assessment, planning, training, environmental testing, security, software and other measures to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks. State and corporate officials said Wednesday that's likely to continue.

''We have to be engaged, as you are in this room, in the way America's always been engaged -- in commerce,'' Philip Teel, chairman of the New York State Business Council, told 150 company representatives at a conference on navigating the homeland security marketplace.

The Northrop Grumman Corp. vice president said New York's economy depends heavily on ''critical, that is to say threatened, assets'' like power plants, financial institutions and industrial sites and ''problem spaces'' like borders, ports, bridges and rail systems.

Now 3-1/2 years since terrorists crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 people, ''many Americans think this country's not at war'' and want things to return to the way they were, said James McMahon, director of the state Office of Homeland Security. ''That's irresponsible,'' he said.

''Make no mistake that this is a war that will be ongoing -- for years,'' McMahon said.

McMahon's office processes the federal homeland security grants for New York, which go to counties based on threat assessments and can fund items like protective, monitoring and decontamination equipment for the state's quarter-million police, firefighters and other emergency responders. This year's funding list should be available within weeks, he said.

New York got about $167 million last year in federal money for homeland security and will get $298 million for 2005, with the additional funds going to New York City, officials said.

The state now has only two of the 50 areas federally designated as high-risk, greater New York City and Buffalo, after Albany was dropped this year. Based on factors like previous attacks and attempts, critical infrastructure, population and cultural icons, New York City remains atop the list, McMahon said, and its homeland security grants rose from $47 million last year to $207 million in 2005.

Meanwhile, Gov. George Pataki has proposed spending $73 million in state funds for homeland security in the 2005-06 fiscal year, on top of $260 million over the past three.

Dale Currier, manager of homeland protection services for Ecology & Environment, said the Lancaster, N.Y.-based company with 1,000 employees globally and $100 million in annual sales now is working with several states to assess vulnerability to ''agriterrorism,'' or threats to the food supply.

''Besides following the money, look at the trends that are being discussed,'' Currier said. Right now that includes transportation, he said, noting another emerging marketplace is high-tech devices to detect chemical and biological hazards.

Consultant Ruth Walters said the state and local governments comprise a $44 billion marketplace for goods and services in New York, and advised paying attention to budgets, making contacts, learning early about upcoming procurements and subscribing to the New York State Contract Reporter, the weekly newsletter that lists state contract bidding. Smaller contracts don't have to got through the same competitive bidding process, she said.

Mark Camillo, director for homeland security for Lockheed Martin Corp., suggested small companies with particular skills contact major contractors like his company to see about subcontracting.