More than 250 representatives of local, minority, and women-owned businesses pitched their goods and services to procurement professionals at Northeastern University on Wednesday afternoon.
The networking event was held in the Curry Student Center Ballroom and cohosted by Northeastern and the Supplier Diversity Office, a state agency dedicated to promoting minority-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations.
The ballroom was packed with representatives of some two-dozen institutions ranging from Northeastern to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, all of whom attended the event in order to build working relationships with minority-owned businesses leaders.
Most of the local business owners who attended the event were looking to expand for one reason or another. Robert Scott, who owns a glass repair company based in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood, noted his desire to increase his clientele in order to provide financial stability for his employees.
“I employ young guys who want to have families,” he explained. “This is for them.”
His pitch to potential clients is simple: “We’ve been around for a long time, and we have the experience to do the job.”
Procurement professionals such as Gerald Inman, director of purchasing for the Wentworth Institute of Technology, spent the afternoon talking shop with business owners like Scott.
“We’re trying to increase the awareness of diverse vendors in the community,” Inman explained. “Many institutions are set in their ways,” he added, “and we want to break that cycle by exposing people to what’s out there.”
Jonathan Talley, the facilities operations business manager at Suffolk University, agreed with Inman, noting that minority business owners deserve the opportunity to showcase their goods and services.
He characterized the networking event as a “good opportunity to meet vendors and build relationships,” perhaps one of which would turn into a long-lasting partnership.
Eighty-five percent of today’s jobs are obtained through networking, according to Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, who addressed attendees midway through the event. “It’s important to have institutions like Northeastern opening their doors to minority-owned businesses,” Jackson said. “Building a business that can be passed down through generations is how you build wealth in the community,” he added.
In his remarks, Reginald Nunnally, the executive director of the SDO, praised minority business owners as “major contributors to the economy of Massachusetts.” The state’s minority and women-owned businesses gross more than $13 billion a year, he said, a sum big enough to rival more than half of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies.