Hundreds of minority-owned businesses in pursuit of growing their companies, learning about future procurement opportunities and building their network participated in today’s free all-day event hosted by the University of South Florida.
USF’s fifth annual Supplier Diversity Day expanded this year to become the university’s largest symposium of its kind to date, including 15 educational sessions and panel discussions designed to help businesses go to the next level. Topics focused on important areas to become a more successful company, such as tips for competitive bidding, access to more capital, technology and future legislation that may impact small businesses.
Diverse suppliers, corporations and non-profit entities in attendance heard updates about major projects at USF, such as the on-campus stadium. USF employees in attendance were able to build new relationships and open opportunities for a more diverse pool of suppliers.
“As one of the largest economic drivers in the Tampa Bay region, the University of South Florida has a responsibility to support locally owned diverse and small businesses,” USF President Rhea Law said. “Our university remains committed to this initiative, and we are proud to host the Supplier Diversity Day and Business Symposium as part of our efforts.”
Attending her first Supplier Diversity Day was Earline Terrell, owner of Beauitful Me, a natural skin and nail salon specializing in older adults. After taking a step away from her business during the COVID-19 pandemic, Terrell is now ready to network and grow her business and listened to a number of today's symposium sessions. The session that left a lasting impact on her was The Power of Relationships; Building My Business Through People. "It gave me a refresher that it’s not always about the financial aspect of the business. It’s about building a relationship with the people and the community that you provide a service for," Terrell said.
Hosted by USF’s Office of Supplier Diversity in partnership with the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council Florida, the Florida Small Business Development Center at USF and the State of Florida Office of Supplier Diversity, the event concluded with one of the largest tradeshows in the Tampa Bay region.
A Supplier Diversity Day regular, Chris Lawson, president of CCS Marketing, recently became a USF supplier and was even tasked to make the event's program and signage. "This event brings businesses that critical outside perspective that they may not get on a day-to-day basis," Lawson said. "It also gives businesses the opportunity to meet people face-to-face and build relationships."
Since USF launched an enhanced supplier diversity initiative several years ago, it has added a variety of programs to support local businesses, including a lunch and learn series for USF staff and faculty to educate them on best suppler diversity practices, a business empowerment series geared toward diverse suppliers and a mentoring program. This month, the Office of Supplier Diversity received a 2022 Business Impact Award from the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council. The award recognizes organizations making a difference in the community through civic, philanthropic and volunteer initiatives.
More information on USF’s Supplier Diversity Day can be found here.