SBA Plays Matchmaker for Small Businesses and Big Government

In a landmark effort to connect big government with small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to launch a national Business Matchmaking Program.

Sponsored by HP, the program is designed to bring small businesses together with government agencies and private companies in face-to-face appointments regarding specific business opportunities. This innovative initiative is designed to give small businesses a chance to win billions of dollars in government contracts.

The program consists of 15 two-day events in major cities around the country. The first program will be presented in Orlando, Fla. on March 4-5, the second in Houston, Texas on April 8-9. In each city, small businesses will have pre-scheduled, individual appointments with buyers from federal, state and local government agencies. Before an event, small business owners and buyers complete online profiles to create the best possible matches. Based on the profiles, the matchmaking system will create the best possible matches of buyers and sellers and set appointments.

Hector V. Barreto, SBA administrator, said the economic potential at the matchmaking events give small businesses an opportunity to generate significant sources of new revenue from government agencies and private companies.

“The Business Matchmaking Program offers great potential for millions of people and thousands of businesses in the U.S., especially when you consider federal agencies alone spend $200 billion a year for products and services,” Barreto said. “Twenty-three percent of that total — or $46 billion — must go to small businesses.”

Thomas J. Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer, said the goal of the Business Matchmaking Program is to provide a new economic impetus for many small businesses.

“This program represents a one-of-a-kind opportunity for small businesses to get in front of legitimate buyers with legitimate buying needs,” Donohue said.

Duane Zitzner, HP Personal Systems Group executive vice president said the Business Matchmaking Program is much more than a new source of revenue for small businesses.

“With small businesses employing nearly 56 million people and accounting for more than two-thirds of all new jobs, the matchmaking initiative represents one of the most important and real economic programs of 2003,” Zitzner said.

In addition to the pre-set appointments, the matchmaking events will provide small businesses valuable insight on financing options, access to technology resources, and educational seminars on a variety of relevant topics, such as contracting with the federal government, access to capital, international trade, business planning and marketing. Government agencies and private companies will also set up exhibits to provide additional information to attendees.

In addition to the SBA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and HP, the Hispanic Business Roundtable, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Women Presidents’ Organization all support the Business Matchmaking Program.

So far, venues have been set in only two cities. The SBA is still finalizing the dates for events in Los Angeles, St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago, New York City, Atlanta, Detroit, Birmingham, Ala., Seattle, Washington, D.C., Boston, Cleveland and Dallas. To register for upcoming events, visit the SBA’s web site for Government Contracting or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Matchmaking site.

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