By LVEDC Staff on April 23, 2013

Mark October 22nd on your calendars. It’s the date of the first ever Lehigh Valley Meet The Buyers Expo that will bring purchasing and procurement professionals from the federal, state and local governments as well as private industry together to meet with you – the small business owner. Why should you go? We’ll let Sally Handlon of Handlon Business Resources answer those questions.

Why was the Meet The Buyers Expo created?

An effective and proven way for a small business to grow is to work with a larger business or prime contractor. But it is difficult for a small business to know which businesses to pursue and whom within the business is the right contact. Small businesses, by nature, are juggling a lot of activities in any given day and as we all know, putting out fires usually delays other efforts. On the other hand, the larger businesses in the greater Lehigh Valley and beyond for that matter may not be aware of the small businesses in the area that could easily fill some of their purchasing needs. In the past the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University held very targeted expos, private business and federal government, respectively. The Meet The Buyers is combining these target purchasing markets as well as state and local government.

The concentration of small businesses in the Lehigh Valley, women-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned and others with less than 100 employees has been about 72 percent of our business community. The Expo is a great way to pull business sources together in support of growing this market.

I have seen other communities offer this type of expo to their businesses. Knowing the Lehigh Valley and our desire to succeed, this can be a substantial support to our business community – large and small.

What exactly will small businesses get out of attending the Meet The Buyers Expo?

The end result is that small businesses will get an opportunity to meet face-to-face with a purchasing professional or procurement specialist, that has the potential to use the products or services of that small business.  However, this is just the first step. The introduction. The ability to leverage that initial introduction is the responsibility of the small business.

However, with all the collaborating partners that are working together to provide this opportunity, business owners will have ongoing support should they have questions.

You have six workshops leading up to the event. What purpose do they serve?

The workshops are being provided to help small businesses prepare for the expo. The workshops range from understanding the requirements of federal and state procurement opportunities as well as what “primes” require. In addition, two of the workshops are about marketing presentation. There is a need to clearly and succinctly represent your business verbally and on collateral material. Experts from all these areas will be involved in presenting these workshops. And, thanks to Air Products who is the Educational Sponsor, we are able to offer them at no charge.

You have one dozen organizations who bought into participating in this event. What do they get out of it?

My first response is they are helping to build a stronger Lehigh Valley small business community…working towards the greater good. They are also providing their clients/customers with opportunities that would not be available had not everyone come together. The Expo is larger than a single organization and the combined efforts are allowing this to happen – independently this would be hard to pull off; however, together we can make it happen!

How will the success of the Expo be defined?

Initial success will be the number of “Buyers” and “Attendees.” However, a more effective measure will be the opportunities that are available and secured after The Expo. To this point, there will be a follow up survey of both buyers and attendees six months and one year out.

For more information and to register please click here.

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