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Supplier diversity coalition hosts effort to boost minority- and women-owned businesses

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Supplier Diversity Development Coalition of Greater Lafayette, of which Purdue University is a member, is bringing together buyers from several local corporations with minority- and women-owned supplier companies for the fourth annual Relationships to Partnerships Conference on Nov. 20.

The conference, at Purdue, is designed to foster the growth and development of minority- and women-owned businesses and strengthen the local economy. It also is sponsored in part by the Lafayette-West Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s rewarding to see this effort grow since we started in 2005,” said Jesse L. Moore Jr., Purdue’s director of supplier diversity development. “More than 400 minority and women business entities attended last year’s sessions at Purdue, which is the only college in Indiana to host such an event.”

Buyers from Purdue will be joined by representatives from event co-sponsors Eli Lilly Co., Alcoa Inc., Vectren Corp., State Farm Insurance Co., Caterpillar Inc., Tate & Lyle PLC, Ivy Tech Community College, Freitag-Weinhardt Inc. and the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to the seminar’s co-sponsors, other members of the Supplier Diversity Coalition of Greater Lafayette are scheduled to be at the conference, including Kirby Risk, Wabash National, the city of Lafayette, the Small Business Development Center, the Indiana Diversity Business Council and the National Association of Woman Business Owners. Other Lafayette area companies invited include Kettlehut Construction Inc., J.R. Kelly Construction Inc., Gaylor Group Inc. and D. A. Dodd Inc.

Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County on Nov. 17 each proclaimed Nov. 20 as Supplier Diversity Day in honor of the coalition during the county commissioners’ meeting at 10 a.m. at the Tippecanoe County Building.

This year’s seminar will be held in Stewart Center, rooms 218, 302 and 306. The seminar will feature four two-hour sessions, each geared toward a specific group of suppliers:

  • Session 1, 10:10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: construction, architectural, engineering, and related services.
  • Session 2, 10:10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: marketing, computer and IT services.
  • Session 3, 2:30-4:30 p.m.: products and goods.
  • Session 4, 2:30-4:30 p.m.: professional services (other than marketing, computer and IT services).

Reginald Williams, a consultant to business and government on supplier diversity who has appeared on PBS and writes a column for several trade journals, will be the keynote speaker at lunch at 12:45 p.m. in Purdue Memorial Union’s South Ballroom.

Williams’ company, Procurement Resources, has worked on diverse supplier development with corporations, government agencies and institutions such as University of California Systemwide, IBM, the U.S. Postal Service, General Motors, Time Warner, Duke University, American Airlines, AT&T, Procter & Gamble, Marriott, Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Hilton Hotels, Johns Hopkins University, NASA, the city of Baltimore and Microsoft.

Each of the sessions is limited to the first 75 suppliers to register. Buyers and suppliers from Tippecanoe County can register for the conference online or by contacting Ed Keller, at (765) 494-9482, The admission fee of $35 covers all sessions and lunch. Lunch only is $25. Registration deadline was Nov. 14.

Purdue organizes several supplier relationship-building events every year, including each summer at Indiana Black Expo.

The goal of the Office of Supplier Diversity Development is to cultivate opportunities for qualified minority- and women-owned businesses to partner with Purdue. The office provides centralized services for Indiana minority and women business owners, a liaison between external business owners and Purdue departments seeking goods and services, and a connection to Purdue entities that can assist business owners and entrepreneurs with business development ventures. The office also conducts outreach to advocacy organizations and maintains ongoing communication with minority and women business owners.

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