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USF Hosts Business Exhibition, Strengthening Supplier Diversity Program

More than 70 exhibitors participated in the all-day event at the Marshall Student Center, which connected owners of diverse businesses to key purchasers within the USF system and its prime contractors.

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2017) -- The University of South Florida today celebrated the success of its inaugural Supplier Diversity Day – an event marked by a commitment from USF’s leadership to build new and ongoing relationships with diverse businesses across the Tampa Bay community.

More than 70 exhibitors participated in the all-day event at the Marshall Student Center to welcome owners of diverse businesses and introduce them to key purchasers within the USF system and its prime contractors.

Exhibitors check in at the inaugural USF Supplier Diversity Day.

“The Office of Supplier Diversity is working directly with our purchasing agents and departmental buyers across the USF System to assist in connecting them with minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses that offer competitive pricing, products and services,” USF System President Judy Genshaft said. “We do this because we want our supply chain to reflect the demographics of our community, but also because it’s simply the right thing to do.”

Terrie Daniel, assistant vice president of the USF Office of Supplier Diversity, was hired in April to oversee the university’s enhanced supplier diversity initiative, which will provide additional opportunities for diverse businesses to work with the USF System in the procurement of goods and supplies, construction, professional services and other contracts.

Terrie Daniel, (center) assistant vice president of the USF Office of Supplier Diversity, speaks with vendors in the Marshall Student Center ballroom, where diverse businesses from across the Tampa Bay region exhibited their goods and services. 

Since her arrival, the office has launched a new website and social media platform, created training programs for USF employees, and held community outreach events.

“USF is a huge economic driver in this region, and we want to invest back into our community,” Daniel said. “The Tampa Bay region has an amazing, diverse business community ready and able to do work with USF… We are 100 percent committed to increasing our utilization of diverse-owned businesses.”

USF leaders participating in a ribbon-cutting opening the business exhibitors showcase were, from left: Nick Trivunovich, vice president of business and finance and chief financial officer; John Long, chief operating officer and senior vice president of business and finance; Judy Genshaft, USF System president; Terrie Daniel, assistant vice president, Office of Supplier Diversity; Calvin Williams, vice president for administrative services; and Jennifer Condon, associate vice president and USF Controller.

Genshaft and Daniel, along with other key USF leaders, joined in an afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of vendor exhibits filling the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. The exhibition’s Bulls Lane included representatives from the USF Office of Supplier Diversity, Purchasing, USF St. Petersburg, USF Sarasota-Manatee, Athletics, and Facilities Management, including Design and Construction. Earlier in the day, a panel of representatives from these same areas answered questions about the USF procurement process and offered tips on how to successfully compete for business procurement opportunities at USF.

USF has made great strides in expanding the diversity and academic success of its student population, with recent national recognition for eliminating the graduation completion rate number gaps between black, Latino and white students, Genshaft said to the audience gathered for the ribbon-cutting. The university will apply similar rigor to strengthening supplier diversity, which is key in helping drive the region’s economic development, she added. “It’s all about working together to make life better for everyone.”

Donald Odom (center), preconstruction director of the Lakeland-based construction management company Nujak, greets one of the business exhibition participants.

That was something Jerel McCants, a 2001 graduate of the USF School of Architecture who established his own Tampa-based firm (Jerel McCants Architecture) eight years ago, was pleased to hear. The USF alumnus said he attended Supplier Diversity Day to take advantage of the opportunity to grow his business – both by using the event to meet with USF procurement officers and decisionmakers and by networking with other diverse business owners exhibiting their goods and services.

“I actually met with USF Facilities Management personnel a few weeks ago, and they were receptive to opening up a dialogue,” McCants said. “That’s why I feel confident within the next two to three years our firm will be able to contribute some of our design and technology skills to the campus.”

Six representatives from areas across the USF System spoke about their purchasing needs, projects, and vendor contracts and answered attendees questions about how to do business with USF.

For more information, including how to register with USF Purchasing and links to business resources, visit the USF Office of Supplier Diversity website.

Story by Tina Meketa and Anne DeLotto Baier, photos by Eric Younghans, and video by Sandra C. Roa, University Communications and Marketing

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