HISD Supplier Diversity Team Networks with M/WBEs at Expo

The district’s supplier diversity team got the chance to tout business opportunities with HISD on Wednesday at the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council Business Expo.

The event, which attracted more than 1,500 corporate buyers, government agencies and educational institutions, provided a way for participants to network and build relationships. HISD took part in hopes of identifying more minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) that might be interested in future procurement opportunities in the district.

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“What we’re looking for are individuals who have skills we can use and also the capacity to handle 300 schools, which is always a challenge,” said Bernard Willingham, the district’s team lead for supplier diversity, which had a booth at the event.

Willingham and others from the HISD team met one on one with representatives from various minority- and women-owned certified companies to answer questions and provide guidance on how to do business with the district.

“To have an opportunity to work with the biggest district in Texas and essentially grow along with HISD as a small business would be beneficial,” said Fabiola Lazo of Boss & Hughes, a Houston-based office supplies and printing company. She said she planned to take part in the workshops organized by the district the first Wednesday of each month to help small businesses navigate the public procurement process.

Willingham said he wants to see small businesses take advantage of opportunities with HISD, including future contract opportunities under the 2012 bond program, which will build or renovate 40 schools across the district.

“The companies I met with are good prospects to do business with HISD,” Willingham said. “When you meet someone you know can help the district and help us achieve some of our goals, that’s a success. If they’re bidding as a result of meeting us at these events, that’s another success story.”

Perez, APC, a design and building firm that was an exhibitor at the expo, is interested in working with HISD.

“We love K-12,” said Angela O’Byrne, the president of Perez. “Not only do we love education projects, but we’re great at it. Schools are such good projects because they have a positive impact on the community.”

Click here to learn more about the HISD supplier diversity program.