SBA's Matchmaking Program Heads South

By SmallBusinessComputing.com Staff
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The Business Matchmaking program, originated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and now a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and HP, is designed to provide small businesses across the country with networking and contract opportunities.

Small businesses throughout the South are extended the opportunity to meet one-on-one with government agencies and large corporations — otherwise known as "buyers" — to obtain near-term contract opportunities for a wide range of products and services.

The Business Matchmaking program is the largest national small business initiative in the history of the federal agency. SBA Administrator Hector Barreto said the matchmaking program is one of a kind, designed to bring small businesses and public and private organizations together for the specific purpose of awarding procurement contracts.

"This is a real program with a real mission to give small businesses around the U.S. a chance to generate revenue by doing business with government agencies and large corporations," Barreto said.

Reta Lewis, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president, said the opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses are enormous.

"We're continuing our nationwide tour to make sure that our businessmen and women outside of Washington, D.C. obtain access to federal and private sector opportunities" Lewis said.

The event will be held in cooperation with the National Black Chamber of Commerce's (NBCC) 11th annual convention. Harry Alford, NBCC president and chief executive officer, said the group is excited about making the matchmaking initiative part of its convention.

"We believe this opportunity is vital in educating, training and opening up doors for minority-owned small businesses, primary objectives of our organization," Alford said.

Small businesses represent nearly 98 percent of the more than 1.2 million businesses in the southeast and employ over a million people. These businesses combined bring in more than $13.3 billion in revenue each year. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses throughout the region have a significant impact on the economy and would benefit from participating in the event.

Robyn West, HP Personal Systems Group vice president, said the Business Matchmaking program is one of the most important economic programs of 2003.

"At HP, we never need to remind ourselves that tomorrow's next business success story is no doubt brewing in someone's garage or small office — after all, that's how we got started," West said.

A good example of Business Matchmaking's success resulted from the Midwest event held last month in Chicago. Marcus Mosley, owner of Champ's Doors & Windows, a Gary, Ind.-based manufacturer of doors, windows and fencing, attended the June event and is already working on an on-going re-modeling project with the Great Lakes Naval Station that will amount to about $200,000 in the next year — with prospects for more business in the future.

At the Birmingham event, small business representatives will meet with buying representatives from government agencies and large corporations through pre-scheduled, individual appointments. The meetings are scheduled before the event by having suppliers — small businesses — and buyers — government agencies and corporations — complete online profiles. Based on the profiles, the best possible matches will be created.

Small businesses can pre-register for the Business Matchmaking event in Birmingham online. With pre-registration closing on July 24th, small businesses are encouraged to register early in order to secure as many one-on-one meetings as possible. For participating small businesses, the cost is $75 for each attendee. On-site registration will be available as well.
This article was originally published on July 18, 2003

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