OXFORD, Mississippi – Supporting statewide efforts to increase diversity among higher education vendors, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University are co-hosting a June 18 vendors’ fair for minority businesses to provide more access to the bidding process.
“Minority Business Expo: Making The University Connection” begins at 1 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Jackson Avenue Center near campus. Online registration is available and early sign-up is encouraged.
“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 Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning recently launched the Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative. Through the program, the state’s eight universities and minority businesses receive tools needed to create ethnic companies have more opportunities to submit quotes and bids on goods and services.
Other institutions supporting the initiative include Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University (both of which hosted similar events earlier), Mississippi University for Women and the University of Southern Mississippi.
“The University of Mississippi has continuously supported a policy of including diverse businesses in the procurement process by participating in statewide diversity workshops, including but not limited to the governor’s access opportunities conferences and programs with the Mississippi Development Authority,” said Larry Sparks, UM vice chancellor of administration and finance. “The university also holds membership in the Mississippi Minority Business Alliance.”
The goal is to continuously work to increase diversity in our purchasing by routinely selecting diverse vendors for additional price quotes and bids, Windham said.
“University Procurement Services’ staff consult regularly with ordering departments to make them aware of the importance of including diverse vendors when soliciting prices and in ordering services, supplies and equipment,” he said.
IHL contracted Where2Go411.com, a web-based platform that connects vendors to buyers through its quote feature. Minority companies post information about their business and the goods and services they provide. Universities send and receive quotes, proposals and subcontracting opportunities through the online system. This benefits minority businesses with awareness of opportunities and enables them to respond using the website’s easy-to-use method.
While any business can be listed on the site, minority businesses are recruited for inclusion in the featured listing section, which provides access to the Quote, RFP and Subcontracting Opportunity solicitations.
The ability to use the site to request quotes and track outcomes will save universities time and effort and will provide data for future decision-making, said Hank Bounds, state commissioner of higher education.
Mississippi Public Universities utilize a number of tools to reach minority businesses, including minority vendor fairs on campus. The website will allow for connections and interactions long after the vendor fair concludes.
For direct contact with UM Procurement Services, call Windham at 662-915-7448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To register online or further information about the Minority Business Expo, click here.
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