Universities to host minority vendor fair

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – A minority vendor fair Tuesday is geared toward opening more business opportunities with the state’s universities.
Tuesday’s event, “Minority Business Expo: Making the University Connection,” begins at 1 p.m. in the Jackson Avenue Center multipurpose room.
The University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University are co-sponsoring the event.
“The purpose of this event is to provide a one-on-one networking opportunity for north Mississippi minority businesses to have access to university departments and key university personnel,” said James Windham, UM director of procurement services.
The state Institutions for Higher Learning board created the Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative to help minority businesses gain access to the quote and bid process with the state’s eight universities.
“MSU is constantly seeking out new suppliers so we can expand the number of companies participating in the public procurement process,” said Don Buffum, MSU director of procurement and contracts.
IHL contracted with Where2Go411.com, a Web-based platform that connects vendors to buyers through its quote feature.
Minority companies post information about their businesses and goods and services they provide. Universities send and receive quotes, proposals and subcontractring opportunities through the online system.
Online registration is encouraged and is available through the website.
“We’re part of the solution, using technology to connect people around the state and nation,” said Kathy Times, vice president and chief operating officer of Where2Go411.
Times said the web portal is easy to navigate, and businesses who otherwise might not have an opportunity to do work for one of the state’s universities now have that chance.
“We’re looking for businesses with the capacity and experience to do this,” Times said.
No business is too small and shouldn’t be deterred by its size, she said. Perhaps a smaller job, like subcontracting work, can lead to bigger and more work down the road.
“It’s about getting your foot in the door,” Times said.
Jackson State University recently hosted the first minority vendor fair, and Times said it was well-attended.
Tuesday’s event is the first at Ole Miss, and Times expects about 50 to 100 attendees.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com