Business Matchmaking Event Gives Specialized Attention to M/WBEs

HISD team members from supplier diversity and procurement on Tuesday met one-on-one with minority- and women-owned business enterprise professionals at a business matchmaking forum, providing detailed guidance on doing business with the district.

For three hours, team members met individually with M/WBEs in engineering, packaging, and technology in 10-minute sessions, providing guidance on the M/WBE certification process, joint ventures, HISD contracts and Request for Proposals (RFPs). The event, organized by Business Matchmaking, drew more than 200 people.

“Ten minutes is not a lot of time, but it gives them that one-on-one time they’re looking for,” said HISD Supplier Diversity Specialist Vanessa McGinnis. “We like to take special care of our M/WBEs because we’re like a pipeline to who they need to talk to.”

Mary Gilmore, owner of Amazing Awards, attended the Houston event in hopes of speaking one on one with HISD about her company, which produces awards for universities and other Houston-area school districts.

“I want the district to know that my company is able to offer a high-quality product at a competitive price because I do everything in-house,” Gilmore said. “I see my company becoming a major supplier of awards for students and staff at HISD.”

During the event, HISD Team Lead for Supplier Diversity Bernard Willingham spoke on a panel alongside representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration, NASA Johnson Space Center and Lockheed Martin, giving tips on how to sell products and services to entities such as HISD.

“A lot of companies are very talented, have great products and services, and would make wonderful suppliers for HISD, but they do not bid,” Willingham said. “They must be prepared to respond to RFPs because there’s no getting around that, especially since the overwhelming majority of contracts we offer are made available through the bidding process.”