IHL launches effort to aid minority businesses land contracts

JACKSON — The board of trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning has unveiled an initiative to assist minority businesses and facilitate the procurement process between universities and minority businesses.

The Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative is aimed at giving both universities and minority businesses the tools they need to ensure that more minority businesses will have opportunities to be included in the bidding process.

“The board of trustees has asked all of Mississippi’s eight public universities to focus on diversity efforts,” said prustee Bob Owens, president of the poard. “In addition to increasing diversity among students, faculty and staff, we have also asked universities to seek ways to include more minority businesses in the bidding process when they request quotes and bids on goods and services.”

The board has contracted with Where2Go411.com, a web-based platform that connects vendors to buyers through its quote feature. Minority enterprises will post information about their businesses and the goods and services they provide. Universities will send and receive quotes, proposals and subcontracting opportunities through the online system. This allows minority businesses to be aware of the opportunities and be able to respond to them using the easy-to-use method provided by the website.

While any business can be listed on the site, minority businesses are recruited for inclusion in the featured listing section, which provides them access to the QRSO (Quote, RFP, Subcontracting Opportunity) solicitations.

The procurement officers on each university campus will receive training on how to post opportunities to the site and how to use the site to retrieve quotes and information from the vendors.

Mississippi Public Universities utilize a number of tools to reach out to minority businesses, including holding minority vendor fairs on campus. This website will provide another tool and allow for a connection and interaction to occur long after the vendor fair concludes

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