03.14.11 | Procurement Conference – A Recap
The Chicago based Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce hosted its 16th annual Project Awareness Procurement Conference on Thursday, March 10. I am very glad that I attended. It was very informative. The conference provided information on becoming a goods or service provider to various local government entities as well as to some corporations interested in supplier diversity. Each organization had informational booths on-site to answer attendees questions as well as presentations on their companies. Presenters included:
- City of Chicago
- Cook County
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield
- Chicago Public Schools
- University of Chicago
- Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
- Public Building Commission
- Walsh Construction
- Illinois Department of Transportation
- Minority Business Development Council
- Illinois Tollway
- Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center
- Small Business Administration
As you can see, it was well represented.
My purpose of attending the conference was to see if what my company offers would be attractive to local government entities. In some cases it was a resounding no and in others it was a maybe. I believe this conference is the first step any small business should take to begin the investigation into whether or not government contracting and corporate supplier diversity programs are right for your business.
What I Found Out
Government contracting today is geared towards supply (e.g. paper, staples) procurement as well as construction and service providers in the janitorial, building maintenance and landscaping services. Professional services, which my firm provides in the areas of finance, planning and strategy, is not a focus of government contracting. Most if not all government offices already have in-house finance staff who focus on these areas. For supplier diversity programs, the same case for professional services. In addition, for specialized services they usually go to the major suppliers of financial services such as the super large accounting and consulting firms.
News You Can Use
One interesting tidbit I learned at the conference is that the City of Chicago offers FREE (for a limited time) certification of your business for the following categories:
- Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)
- Woman Business Enterprise (WBE)
- Veteran Business Enterprise/Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE)
You can apply for certification online beginning March 15 at their website. Many other government entities and corporations accept their certification but you need to check with each one to make sure.
Even though government and corporate supplier diversity programs do not seem like a good fit for my business I will continue to investigate by taking advantage of some of the great services offered by the government. For example, the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center offers expert help in determining if your business is a good fit for these types of programs and the City of Chicago offers workshop sessions in contracting on Wednesdays.
I will keep you informed of my progress as I investigate further. Also, if you have any questions please feel free to add a comment and I will respond.
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