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Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match: Blytheville Chamber of Commerce tries to arrange marriage of manufacturers and suppliers.

The matchmaker of old had a simple job -- find single, earnest women willing to marry bachelors too busy or too lazy to find their own wives.

The Blytheville Chamber of Commerce has given that old concept a new twist as it attempts to "marry" manufacturers and suppliers.

The Mississippi County MatchMaker will be held Thursday at Mississippi County Community College in Blytheville. Sessions will run from 9 a.m. until noon and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. A complimentary continental breakfast will be offered between 7:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.

The program is hosted by the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce and the Mississippi County judge's office. The event is co-sponsored by Arkansas Power & Light Co., Mississippi County Electric Cooperative, Associated Natural Gas Co., MCCC and the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission.

AIDC officials devised the MatchMaker concept to acquaint Arkansas manufacturers with potential in-state suppliers. Essentially, it's a reverse trade show at which manufacturers display products they use in hopes of connecting with Arkansas suppliers of product parts and services.

Potential suppliers who attend MatchMaker events can visit with the purchasing agents of various companies.

Invitations Sent

The event is the first of its kind in Mississippi County.

More than 1,500 invitations were sent to companies across the state to make them aware of the 15 exhibitors attending the program.

The exhibitors include Acco Cable Controls Group of Blytheville, EIS Brake Parts of Manila, Magnetek Inc. of Blytheville, Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. of Blytheville, Nucor Steel Inc. of Blytheville and Hickman, J.T. Parsons Cabinet Co. of Osceola, Southworth Products Corp. of Manila and Borg-Warner Automotive Inc. of Blytheville.

"We're one of the largest |MatchMakers~ in the state," says Barbara Terry, an administrative assistant for the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce. "We've received replies from as far away as Fayetteville."

Terry expects between 200 and 300 potential suppliers to attend Thursday's event.

The initial MatchMaker program was held six years ago at Hot Springs. It was hosted by Poulan Weed Eater, a division of White Consolidated Industries Inc. The company has a plant at Nashville employing more than 1,000 Arkansans.

Of the 85 vendors who attended the event, 33 made formal bids to Poulan. The company's annual spending for products and services from Arkansas increased from $3 million to more than $50 million.

The first MatchMaker held in northeast Arkansas was two years ago. It attracted representatives of 126 companies to Jonesboro.

The largest MatchMaker was the first statewide event, targeted at automotive manufacturers in December 1990. The Little Rock exhibition featured 150 companies.
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Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:May 18, 1992
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