UW News

November 2, 2006

Inaugural vendor fair to encourage use of minority- and women-owned businesses

Twenty-five small businesses that supply goods and services to the UW will be showcased in a vendor fair Tuesday, Nov. 7, where they will have a chance to meet with a wide range of UW staff members responsible for purchasing decisions in their departments.

The fair, the first of its kind at the UW, is part of an effort launched earlier this year to provide opportunities for and encourage small businesses, especially those owned by minorities and women, to compete for a part of the $1.8 billion a year that the University spends on goods and services. The University buys commodities ranging from computers to catering to construction.

UW staff members who purchase goods and services are welcome to attend the fair at no charge. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the West Ballroom of the Husky Student Union Building. For more information, contact Lynn Beck, small business officer, Purchasing and Stores, 206-543-0847, lynnb@u.washington.edu

The vendor fair is part of the UW’s Business Diversity Program that was created earlier this year by four UW departments with advice from a committee of business, community and university leaders.

Currently, less than 2 percent of the UW’s purchases are with minority- and women-owned businesses. The program hopes to educate businesses about how the University buys goods and services and, as a result, more such businesses will compete for UW work, says Sandra Lier, associate vice president for UW Business Services.

“The program doesn’t give preferences to businesses, it just tries to ease the way for a wider variety of firms to compete for contracts,” she said.

Part of the program has involved creating a “self-identification” initiative that helps track businesses owned by minorities and women that have chosen not to seek state or federal certification.

A new Web site with the self-identification application form, links to various University departments and other resources for small businesses is at http://www.washington.edu/admin/purchstores/bdp/index.html

Two other workshops have already been held for helping educate vendors about how to do business with the University. Additional workshops are planned including one to help facilitate relationships between construction contractors and small subcontractors.

The Business Diversity Program is a joint effort of the UW Purchasing and Stores Department, which buys goods and services; Capital Projects Office, which procures design and construction services for the building and renovation of facilities on campus; the Business and Economic Development Center, a program in the Business School, that provides resources and mentoring to small businesses; and the Accounts Payable Department that helps ensure that the University’s vendors get paid on time.

“The University is committed to extending opportunities to participate in contracts for public works, architect and engineering services, and purchased goods and services in a fair and open competitive manner for all interested parties,” Lier said.