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SBA'S MINORITY BUSINESS SHOWCASE DRAWS OVER 1,350 TO WASHINGTON 'ONE-STOP' PROCUREMENT AND TRADE FAIR

 SBA'S MINORITY BUSINESS SHOWCASE DRAWS OVER 1,350 TO WASHINGTON
 'ONE-STOP' PROCUREMENT AND TRADE FAIR
 WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- An inaugural "one-stop" business exposition sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is bringing together more than 350 historically underutilized firms and over 1,000 purchasing agents from government and corporate America this week in the nation's capital.
 SBA Administrator Patricia Saiki on Monday greeted the opening-day crowd at the Sheraton Washington Hotel, site of the three-day trade fair, with a call for more recognition of the value of minority firms, both through utilization of their products and services, and respect for their economic contributions.
 Saiki was joined at the opening ceremony by Washington, D.C., Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, who encouraged all exhibitors to continue their march toward full economic realization, while also extending a warm welcome to the city.
 Commenting on the recent expansion in the ranks of ethnic firms, Saiki said, "Changes are already evident on the business landscape.... The SBA estimates that there are now approximately one million minority- owned businesses. This growth -- this potential -- means that your contributions will be the most significant, the most felt, the most vital in the coming years."
 SBA's First Annual 8(a) Procurement Exposition and Trade Fair was launched on Jan. 20, the day set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme, "Economic Freedom: The Key," reflects the slain civil- rights leader's aspirations for economic self-determination for people of all ethnic backgrounds.
 Exhibit space is available exclusively to businesses in the SBA's 8(a) program, which provides business development assistance and access to federal contracting opportunities to businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
 Commercial networking, with an eye toward long-term contracting relationships, is the agency's goal in bringing together these minority vendors and buyers from government and corporate America.
 "To those of you in the private sector," said Saiki, "you have the opportunity to work with some of the most qualified small businesses in this country. These are the companies that have demonstrated the competence to be included in our 8(a) program and are anxious to show you how well they can perform."
 Organizers estimate that around 400 private sector purchasing agents would attend over the three days, with an equal number of procurement officials from all levels of government. The balance of those expected to stroll the exhibit floor are other members of the business community, and many former participants in the SBA's 8(a) program who have now attained commercial self-sufficiency and no longer need assistance.
 Self-sufficiency through business development is a major goal of the agency's 8(a) program. Emerging firms are given SBA management and technical assistance, in addition to access to federal contracting, until these companies evolve to where they can compete with other similar firms not in the program. The nationwide 8(a) pool currently includes more than 3,700 firms.
 The trade fair also featured a number of educational seminars, ranging from marketing tips on contracting in the private sector, to dealing with federal agencies like the Department of Defense and Resolution Trust Corporation, to an examination of the full range of assistance offered by the SBA.
 -0- 1/20/92
 /CONTACT: D.J. Caulfield of The U.S. Small Business Administration, 202-205-6744/ CO: U.S. Small Business Administration ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:


TS-SH -- NY007 -- 1432 01/20/92 13:00 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 20, 1992
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