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STOCKTON — Businesses, city, county and state agencies were on-hand on Sept. 12 to connect with vendors of every size.
The Small Business Procurement Expo was free to businesses that are looking for inroads to agencies that contract out for products and services of all kinds from office equipment to shipping and janitorial services.
“We’re basically getting information on how to get connected to Cal-Trans, and trying to get more information on how to spread our name,” said Juliana Kaiser with Bart Atkins Trucking. “There’s only a few things we need to do as a business to get certified through Caltrans.”
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 10 was one of several exhibitor agencies in attendance to connect with the vendors. More than 50 exhibitors—including the California Department of Consumer Affairs, San Joaquin County Public Works Solid Waste, Department of Food and Agriculture and the Sacramento County Contracts and Purchasing Department—were seeking connections with businesses of every size.
Caltrans also presented a workshop on disadvantaged business enterprise, or helping smaller businesses connect with agencies to procure valuable contracts.
Other workshops covered topics such as avoiding errors in the contract bidding process, how to do business with the state, being a subcontractor on federal contract and others.
“Every dollar that’s being spent in this community is a domino effect,” said Carlos Villapudua, CEO of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “It goes into having more vendors participate in this community, it’s more money on the table, it creates more jobs for all of us. That’s what we want to see come out of this.”
And it’s not just a select few. University of the Pacific contracts vendors numbering in the thousands, according to Ronda Marr, Director of Procurement Services with UOP.
“We have the need to order various commodities. The message we tell small business vendors is that we have someone who needs your supplies,” said Maria Bernardino, Director of Purchasing and Contracts with San Joaquin Delta College. “The main goal (for the expo) is to empower our small vendors to be successful.”
Exhibitors weren’t limited to agencies within San Joaquin County. Sacramento County was also there to connect.
“We’re still in the Central Valley region, so we tend to have an overlap in vendors,” said Craig Rader, Purchasing Agent with Sacramento County.
“We tell (vendors) what Sacramento has as far as business-friendly, small business opportunities,” said Dianna Baird, Contract Services Officer with the same county. “Sacramento County is no stranger to needing goods and services.”
The expo’s main purpose was to act as a networking and informational resource to those vendors in attendance.
“If you’re an attendee and you don’t sign up for one-on-one with one of these purchasing departments, you may be missing out on opportunities to get the contact that may lead to a contract,” said Michael Aguillio from the California Department of General Services. “If you go away with your own business cards in hand, then you failed to do what you came here to do, to make the connections you need to be successful.”