Two state agencies are hosting an event on Wednesday for minority-owned companies seeking to do business with the state government.
The Ohio Business Expo caters to businesses that are certified through the state-run Minority Business Enterprise and the Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity programs. The event is at the Rhodes Center at the Ohio Expo Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Minority Business Enterprise program is for businesses that are at least 51 percent owned by African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans or Asians. The Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity program is for businesses whose owners had a net worth less than $250,000 at the start of the program.
Business owners in the programs are eligible to apply for loans and bonds, and are provided opportunities for seeking contracts with the state.
In Ohio, there are 1,210 businesses certified in the Minority Business Enterprise program and 1,852 in the Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity program, although there are businesses certified in both.
There won't be any contracts awarded at the expo, but business owners can learn about upcoming opportunities with agencies to be considered for the competitive bid process.
Representatives from 78 state agencies, boards, commissions and higher-education institutions will be in attendance.
There also will be free workshops for attendees, including on how to use the state procurement site and the basics of joint ventures.
The state has made it a priority to do more business with minority-owned businesses and to make them aware of opportunities, said Bob Blair, director of the Department of Administrative Services.
Last year, state agencies did business with Minority Business Enterprise businesses to the tune of $70 million, and Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity businesses earned $245 million in state contracts, not including higher-education institutions.
"We have 80,000 minority businesses in the state, and we'd like to reach out to many of those, because they're the ones creating the jobs," said Sharon Smith, interim assistant deputy chief with the state office of business assistance.
The state set goals to receive 5 percent of its professional services from Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity businesses and 15 percent of its business services from Minority Business Enterprise businesses. Last year's numbers exceeded the 5 percent mark but not the 15 p ercent standard.
Last year, more than 300 businesses attended the expo, and 362 were signed up this year through pre-registration, which ended on Wednesday. Registration will be available at the expo. Admission is free and parking is $5.
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