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SBA and HP Expand Business Matchmaking Program to Include 24/7 Virtual Contract Opportunities, Allows for Higher Participation

Cincinnati and Detroit Small Businesses Are First to Vie for Contracts Through Enhanced Online Match-ups
WASHINGTON - July 6, 2004

Business Matchmaking, a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and HP (NYSE, Nasdaq:HPQ) initiative geared to assist small businesses in gaining access to federal procurement opportunities, today announced enhanced online capabilities in order to meet increased participation in the program.

"As momentum and interest grow with every event, Business Matchmaking is evolving to serve the needs of small business," said SBA Administrator Hector V. Barreto. "This program offers significant economic opportunities for America's strongest growing market - small business - and therefore, we want to enable as many people as possible to participate."

Participants in the program's Business Matchmaking Workshops Plus will now have 24/7 online access to numerous corporate and government contract opportunities through the Small Business Networking Center (SBNC) available at http://www.businessmatchmaking.com.

Through the SBNC, businesses that attend a Business Matchmaking Workshop Plus will now be able to make appointments for telephone interviews with procurement officials outside of Business Matchmaking regional events, saving buyers and sellers time and money by eliminating the need to travel to each event. It will also increase the number of appointments each small business will be allowed.

"As partners with the SBA on Business Matchmaking, HP is completely dedicated to providing small businesses with the necessary tools to close deals," said Robyn West, vice president, Small and Medium Business, HP. "Not only do we support Business Matchmaking by providing the technology behind each of the events, but we also have the most active corporate procurement program on-site, having dedicated over 1,800 hours to the program since it began. With the enhanced online capabilities, the program expands the procurement opportunities and contacts for small business."

The online enhancement to the program was initiated at the Cincinnati Business Matchmaking Workshop Plus in April, and 561 telephone interviews between Cincinnati small business participants of the program and procurement officials have already been scheduled. As both a partner with the SBA on the program and an advocate for small business, HP procurement officials have dedicated 114 hours and 342 interviews with Cincinnati small businesses.

Participants in the Detroit Business Matchmaking Workshop Plus, which was held last week and brought out a record 458 small business owners, will also have the opportunity to virtually set appointments with major procurement officials.

With 80 percent of federal contracts traditionally awarded to businesses within 50 miles of the Beltway in Washington, D.C., Business Matchmaking was created to help level the playing field for small businesses by enabling direct access to government and large corporation contracts. Regional events are held throughout the country to 'match' up small businesses with federal, state, and local government agencies and Fortune 500 companies for face-to-face meetings to discuss actual contract opportunities.

Over the past year, the program's growth has spurred enhancements to the program to include the addition of Business Matchmaking Workshops Plus, one-day seminars that arm small business entrepreneurs with the training and information necessary to 'do business' with the government and large companies.

Previous Business Matchmaking events from Anaheim, Calif. to Orlando, Fla. have resulted in more than 14,000 meetings between small business owners and procurement officials, resulting in millions of dollars in contracts awarded to date.

About the SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration, established in 1953, provides financial, technical and management assistance to help Americans start, run, and grow their businesses. With a portfolio of direct and guaranteed business loans and disaster loans worth more than $45 billion, SBA is the nation's largest single financial backer of small businesses. Last year, SBA offered management and technical assistance to more than 2 million small business owners. SBA also plays a major role in the government's disaster relief efforts by making low-interest recovery loans to both homeowners and businesses. America's 23 million small businesses employ more than 50 percent of the private workforce, generate more than half the nation's gross domestic product, and are the principal source of new jobs in the U.S. economy.

About HP

HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses and institutions globally. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. For the four fiscal quarters ended April 30, 2004, HP revenue totaled $76.8 billion. More information about HP (NYSE, Nasdaq: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com.

About HP

HP Inc. creates technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere. Through our portfolio of printers, PCs, mobile devices, solutions, and services, we engineer experiences that amaze. More information about HP Inc. is available at http://www.hp.com.