Business expo provides networking, business opportunities

Supplier DiversityHISD joined hundreds of Houston employers – including big names like Chevron, BBVA Compass, NASA, and the City of Houston – at the George R. Brown Convention Center this week for the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HMSDC) Business Expo.

“Energizing the Global Economy!” was the theme of this year’s expo. HMSDC actively involves its members in efforts that will increase and expand business opportunities and business growth for minority business enterprises.

The annual expo brings together minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) with corporate buyers, government agencies and educational institutions by providing a variety of networking opportunities and resources.

HISD’s Supplier Diversity Office, which works to provide minority- and women-owned businesses access to business opportunities, workshops and information, sponsored a booth at the Expo Marketplace.

“This event supports M/WBEs and allows them to enhance the skills they will need in order to do business with the District,” said Alexis Licata, HISD General Manager Business Assistance. “It also provides a setting for our team to discuss opportunities and learn about the capabilities of each potential supplier in attendance.”

A steady stream of visitors stopped by HISD’s booth, including Bill Okeson from HBS National, who has been active in HMSDC for many years. His company provides janitorial services and had an HISD contract in the past and would like to bid on another in the future.

“My advice to other M/WBEs is don’t be intimidated by the size of the organization you’re trying to do business with,” Okeson said. “Events like this are well worth the effort because you can make so many new contacts.”

In addition to the Marketplace, the expo also featured one-to-one sessions for vendors to discuss their products and services with corporate buyers, a coaching corner for attendees to receive feedback and insight on key areas of their business, and a networking and awards luncheon.

“We’ve made lots of connections at this year’s Expo, and that’s a good thing,” said Vanessa McGinnis, HISD Supplier Diversity Specialist. “HISD is a huge operation, so we need a steady stream of suppliers to draw from.”