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Small Businesses Converge on Milwaukee to Pitch for Millions in Enterprise and Government Contracts

SBA and HP Small Business Foundation Host Midwest Regional Business Matchmaking
MILWAUKEE, Wis., Sept. 14, 2005

More than 600 small business owners are congregating in Milwaukee today for the Midwest Regional Business Matchmaking event. The Business Matchmaking program is designed to give small businesses an opportunity to negotiate in-person for contracts with buyers from large corporations as well as federal, state and local agencies.

Business Matchmaking is made possible through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the HP Small Business Foundation.

The Milwaukee event marks the end of another successful year for Business Matchmaking. To date, the program has facilitated more than 30,000 face-to-face meetings between small business owners and government and large enterprise procurement representatives and has generated $35 million in actual contracts.

The federal government is required by law to award a certain percentage of contracts to small businesses. Traditionally, the majority of these contracts went to companies in the greater Washington, D.C., area. The Business Matchmaking program was developed to allow more small businesses to bid for these contracts as well as those with state and local governments and large companies. Milwaukee-area companies including MasterLock, Harley Davidson, OshKosh Truck Corporation and the City of Milwaukee will be joining HP, American Airlines, Aflac, Office Depot and some 25 U.S. Government agencies in offering procurement opportunities to the more than 600 primarily minority-owned small business owners.

One small business owner who attended the Nashville, Tenn., event and reaped the benefits of Business Matchmaking first-hand is Danny Gardner, owner of Country Bake, an eight-person company that produces baked goods in Fairburn, Ga. "We had been trying to build a relationship with a large company for some time and Business Matchmaking let us meet face-to-face with key decision makers," said Gardner. "They liked what they tasted at Business Matchmaking so we shipped them more samples, which they took to some of their customers. The end result was not only a recurring contract with the company but also additional contracts with its customers. Thanks to Business Matchmaking, we grew our business and shortened the sales process by three months."

"For these small businesses, each new win, each success is a significant milestone," said Denise Marcilio, general manager, U.S. Hispanic and Women Owned SMB Customer Solutions, HP. "Business Matchmaking is one of our most exciting initiatives because the program has a material impact on small businesses. Not only does the HP Small Business Foundation work with the SBA on this program, HP is one of the largest procurers of goods and services at these events."

"This event in Milwaukee concludes our most successful year of Business Matchmaking to date," said SBA Administrator Hector V. Barreto. "This is a real program with a real mission: to give small businesses across the country the opportunity to negotiate contracts with government agencies and large corporations. The enthusiasm for Business Matchmaking is clearly demonstrated by the increasing attendance on both sides of the negotiating table."

Additional Business Matchmaking events have taken place in Nashville, Washington and Pasadena, Calif. The Virtual Business Matchmaking pilot program launched earlier this year will provide telephone-based interviews after electronic matching between small businesses and procurement representatives. The online network is currently available to small businesses in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Kansas City and Tampa. For more information, log on to http://www.businessmatchmaking.com.

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