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Purdue conference to help minority business owners network

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University’s Office of Supplier Diversity Development will host the fifth annual Relationships to Partnerships Session on Nov. 12 to help minority and women business owners in Indiana network with prospective clients.

The daylong conference, which is being co-hosted by the Supplier Diversity Development Coalition of Greater Lafayette, will start at 8 a.m. in Stewart Center and feature keynote speaker Wendy Lewis, senior vice president of diversity and strategic alliances for Major League Baseball.

The Greater Lafayette Supplier Diversity Coalition encourages diversity and facilitates partnerships among small, diverse businesses and the larger members of the Greater Lafayette business community.

“Relationships to Partnerships brings together diverse businesses with buyers, contracting staff and other decision-makers to establish or enhance relationships that lead to business partnerships,” said Jesse Moore, director of the Office of Supplier Diversity Development at Purdue. “Historically, we have had around 200 businesses participate each year.”

This year’s event will include three breakout sessions. The topics are construction and related services; information technology, marketing and communications; and goods and commodities.

“Businesses select the session that best fits their product or service, and we have buyers of those goods at the respective session,” Moore said.

Over the years, Relationships to Partnerships has helped minority- and women-owned businesses meet clients such as Freitag-Weinhardt, State Farm Insurance, Caterpillar, Tate & Lyle, Ivy Tech Community College, Eli Lilly and Co., Kirby Risk and Alcoa.

“Initially, this event was attended by buyers at Purdue,” Moore said. “But two years ago, the Supplier Diversity Coalition of Greater Lafayette became the sponsor and expanded the business opportunities available to the attendees at the conference.”

Since then, the mayors of Lafayette and West Lafayette and the Tippecanoe County Commissioners have supported the event and declared the day of the conference as Supplier Diversity Day, Moore said.

Bill Shrewsberry, president and CEO of Shrewsberry & Associates, an Indianapolis-based civil and environmental engineering company, attended the conference in 2007.

“It’s a great place to meet others in the same business,” Shrewsberry said. “It’s well-attended, and I would highly recommend it to other business owners.”

Shrewsberry’s company is now working on a project to expand the parking lot outside Purdue’s Mackey Arena. Attending the Relationships to Partnerships Session created the opportunity for him to be interviewed for the project, he said.

Billie Dragoo, CEO and owner of RepuCare/RepuStaff, a medical company based in Indianapolis, said the conference was a “great venue to meet other like-minded business owners.”

“It is a place to network, collaborate and/or build alliances to form a consortium to have the capacity to bid for a project,” Dragoo said.

This year, the plenary session is from 8:30-10:45 a.m. at Stewart Center, Room 218. The topic is “Building Capacity: Never Let the Fear of Striking Out Get in Your Way.”

Three concurrent sessions take place from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Stewart Center.

Session 1, which is on construction, architectural engineering and related services, will take place in Room 214. Session 2, which is on marketing, computer and IT services, takes place in Room 202. Session 3, which is on products, goods and professional services other than A&E, will be in Room 204. The sessions will be followed by lunch from 1-3:15 p.m. in the Purdue Memorial Union’s North Ballroom.

Those interested in attending this year’s event can register online at http://www.conf.purdue.edu/R2P5

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