Business Expo And Multicultural Marketplace At Housatonic

From Mayor Bill Finch:

Nearly 100 exhibitors representing organizations from across the tri-state area are set to converge on the 2013 Business Expo and Multicultural Marketplace organized by the City of Bridgeport’s Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Resource Office (SMBRO).

Vendors will gather in Housatonic College’s Beacon Hall Event Center on Friday (March 1) to showcase their companies and all they have achieved with the help of the Small Minority Business Resource Office. The goal of the Expo is to allow these companies to network with each other and showcase their services.

During the last six years, the City of Bridgeport’s SMBRO has posted tremendous success in assisting small, minority and women-owned businesses grow and flourish. This growth allows the City to utilize Bridgeport’s own small-business base to complete projects of all sizes.

“I am committed to expanding access to firms seeking procurement opportunities with the City of Bridgeport,” said Mayor Finch. “I will continue to foster a culture of inclusion that values and promotes equal opportunity, non-discrimination, and diversity in business, employment, programs and services.”

Under the leadership of Deborah Caviness, SMBRO offers small, minority and women-owned businesses the tools necessary to do business with the City of Bridgeport, large corporations, and each other. Among these resources are workshops, certification programs, and networking events like the Business Expo and Multicultural Marketplace.

Since its inception, the Business Expo has grown from a few exhibitors in City Hall lobby to a capacity crowd inside the Beacon Hall Event Center. The event will feature workshops on Marketing, Eco-friendly business practices, and working with the city and state, to name a few.

One of Mayor Finch’s first initiatives implemented when he took office, the SMBRO has helped small, minority and women-owned business thrive.

In 2012, the SMBRO received $2 million to implement the city’s first Bonding Guarantee Program for Minority Business Enterprises.

In addition to this grant, the organization registered 85 new businesses last year, and collected $15,000 in fines from companies in violation of the Minority Business Enterprises ordinance, which was established in 2007.

Among the numerous resources the SMBRO provides is an extensive database of local small, minority and women-owned businesses and subcontractors. This database gives prime contractors access to hundreds of subcontractors who are available to meet their hiring needs. It also allows the city to notify businesses when contracts are available in their industry.

While construction is the most prominent industry developing in Bridgeport, other vendors participating in the event include public relations, insurance and independent newspapers to name a few.

Cheryl McKissack, President and CEO of the nation’s oldest minority/women-owned construction firm, hailed the success she’s found as a result of her firm’s participation, stating that “McKissack is one of the many minority-own businesses that has received more than $37 million in city contracts in the last year alone.”

The Business Expo is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office, and has several co-sponsors, including McKissack &MicKissack.

The Business Expo runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Beacon Hall at Housatonic Community College, Lafayette Boulevard in Bridgeport. It is free and open to the public.

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