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SBA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and HP announce program to provide economic stimulus to America's small businesses

With billions of dollars in contracts expected to be available, the Business Matchmaking Program gives small businesses a unique opportunity to hold face-to-face meetings to sell products and services to government agencies and private companies in 15 cities throughout the U.S.
WASHINGTON, January 23, 2002

In a landmark effort to provide a major economic stimulus to America's small businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration today announced the launch of the national Business Matchmaking Program. Sponsored by HP (NYSE:HPQ), the program is designed to bring small businesses together with government agencies and private companies in face-to-face appointments regarding specific business opportunities. This groundbreaking initiative is expected to give small businesses a chance to win billions of dollars in contracts.

An SBA initiative, the matchmaking program will feature two-day regional events in 15 cities around the country, starting March 4-5 in Orlando, Fla. In each region small business owners will have pre-scheduled, individual appointments with buyers from federal, state and local government agencies, as well as private companies. Before the events, small business owners and buyers complete online profiles to provide information on what each has to offer. Based on the profiles, the matchmaking system will create the best possible matches and set appointments. It is possible for a single small business to have numerous appointments during the two-day event.

"The Business Matchmaking Program offers great potential for millions of people and thousands of businesses in the U.S., especially when you consider federal agencies alone spend $200 billion a year for products and services – and 23 percent of that total – or $46 billion --must go to small businesses," said SBA Administrator Hector V. Barreto. "With that kind of economic potential, these matchmaking events give small businesses an opportunity to generate significant sources of new revenue from government agencies and private companies.

"Plus, with the SBA celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2003," Barreto continued, "I can think of no better way to commemorate our mission to promote the growth and prosperity of America's small business than by implementing a new and exciting program designed to do just that – help small businesses grow and prosper."

"This program represents a one-of-a-kind opportunity for small businesses to get in front of legitimate buyers with legitimate buying needs," said Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Our goal is clear: to use this program to provide a new economic impetus that many small businesses are looking for to grow their business – with that, in turn, playing a key role in growing the U.S. economy."

"With small businesses employing nearly 56 million people and accounting for more than two-thirds of all new jobs, the matchmaking initiative represents one of the most important and real economic programs of 2003," said Duane Zitzner, Executive Vice President, HP Personal Systems Group. "We also have a common ground with America's small businesses that is an important part of our history. Compaq Computer, with whom HP completed a merger last year, began as a small business and received its initial funding from the SBA."

"That helps make this program and its support of small businesses so meaningful to all of us at HP," Zitzner continued. "We believe this program will provide small businesses with a major source of new revenue, and that it will further support the small business owner's unique ability to continually innovate and improve productivity."

In addition to the pre-set appointments, the matchmaking events will provide small businesses valuable insight on financing options, access to technology resources, and educational seminars on a variety of relevant topics, such as contracting with the federal government, access to capital, international trade, business planning and marketing. Government agencies and private companies will also set up exhibits to provide additional information to attendees.

Below is a list of cities for the national Business Matchmaking Program (dates are being finalized):

Orlando, March 4-5
Houston, April 8-9
Anaheim/Los Angeles
St. Louis
New Orleans
Chicago
New York City
Atlanta
Detroit
Birmingham, Ala.
Seattle
Washington, D.C.
Boston
Cleveland
Dallas

In addition to the SBA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and HP, the Business Matchmaking Program is supported by the Hispanic Business Roundtable, National Black Chamber of Commerce, Women Presidents' Organization.

To learn more about upcoming Business Matchmaking Program events, and to register for upcoming events, visit the SBA's web site at www.sba.gov/gc or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at www.uschamber.com/events/matchmaking/default.html.



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