Sometimes standing in line has its rewards. That’s why small business owners attending a recent ISU Extension-sponsored procurement conference didn’t mind the wait to meet with prime government contractors and procurement officials.
“This enabled us to connect names with faces and show what we can bring to the table,” said Malcolm Goodwin, president of Promise IT Solutions and Global Search. “It was well worth the time.” Goodwin expects his contacts at the conference will result in increased revenues for his two young companies.
Extension’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) organized the 2008 Iowa Procurement Expo and Networking Event to provide opportunities for small businesses to make connections that could lead to increased sales and profits. The half-day event was held July 10 in Des Moines.
Approximately 200 people registered for the event, and some drove as many as four hours each way to attend. The quality of the 30 exhibitors contributed to the “phenomenal” interest, said expo organizer Dave Bogaczyk, CIRAS procurement program manager. The exhibitors included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa National Guard, Rockwell Collins and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
The line for engineering giant Rockwell Collins “started at 20 and never really ended,” Bogaczyk said.
“There’s always a line to see us,” said exhibitor Ruby Rice, business specialist from the U.S. GSA’s regional office in Kansas City. Rice counsels small businesses on how they can obtain government subcontracts, advising them to start with city and state government.
This isn’t the first time that GSA has had a booth at a CIRAS event. “I’ve gone for years,” Rice said. “Each year it just keeps getting better and better. CIRAS is outstanding in their efforts to reach small businesses. When CIRAS calls, I drop what I’m doing and I get on the road.”
Goodwin believes attendance at CIRAS purchasing expos is crucial for minority-owned businesses such as his own. The minimal cost of this event is an important factor for a small business. “Companies can spend thousands of dollars just to get in front of one person,” he said.
Goodwin, as well as the other attendees, appreciated the networking opportunity. The expo evaluations, according to Bogaczyk, didn’t contain a single negative comment.