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5/15/2013 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced today an initiative to assist minority businesses and facilitate the procurement process between universities and minority businesses. The Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative will give both universities and minority businesses the tools they need to ensure that more minority businesses will have opportunities to be included in the bidding process.

“The Board of Trustees has asked all of Mississippi’s eight public universities to focus on diversity efforts,” said Trustee Bob Owens, president of the Board of Trustees. “In addition to increasing diversity among students, faculty and staff, we have also asked universities to seek ways to include more minority businesses in the bidding process when they request quotes and bids on goods and services.”

The Board of Trustees has contracted with Where2Go411.com, a web-based platform that seamlessly connects vendors to buyers through its quote feature. Minority enterprises will post information about their businesses and the goods and services they provide. Universities will send and receive quotes, proposals, and subcontracting opportunities through the online system. This allows minority businesses to be aware of the opportunities and be able to respond to them using the easy-to-use method provided by the website.

“The Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative is an important step forward in reaching the Board of Trustees’ goal of increasing diversity on our university campuses,” said Trustee C.D. Smith, chair of the Board’s Diversity Committee. “The website will be a great tool to give both the universities and the minority businesses the information they need to access the opportunities to work together. Our goal is to expand opportunities and help minority businesses to grow and thrive.”

While any business can be listed on the site, minority businesses are recruited for inclusion in the Featured listing section, which provides them access to the QRSO (Quote, RFP, Subcontracting Opportunity) solicitations.

The procurement officers on each university campus will receive training on how to post opportunities to the site and how to use the site to retrieve quotes and information from the vendors.

“The ability to use the site to request quotes and track the outcome, including when a vendor does or does not submit a proposal and whether the vendor receives the bid, will save our universities time and effort,” said Dr. Hank M. Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education. “It will also provide data for future decision-making.”

Mississippi Public Universities utilize a number of tools to reach out to minority businesses, including holding minority vendor fairs on campus. This website will provide another tool and allow for a connection and interaction to occur long after the vendor fair concludes.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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