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October 25, 2013

Purdue conference helps minority business owners network

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.— Purdue University's Office of Supplier Diversity Development, in partnership with the Supplier Diversity Development Coalition of Greater Lafayette, will host the annual Relationships to Partnerships Sessions on Nov. 15 to help minority and women business owners in Indiana connect with other businesses.

The daylong conference, themed "Growing Your Business Could be Dangerous," will start at 8 a.m. in Stewart Center and will feature Marie Johns as the luncheon keynote speaker. Johns is the former deputy administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"We chose the theme because there is not enough discussion about growing businesses, especially about growing them too fast, which can be more dangerous than having no customers at all," said Jesse L. Moore Jr., director of Purdue's Office of Supplier Diversity Development. "We'll have panelists who have managed their growth successfully and can share their experience with attendees."

Moore said it's rewarding that this is the ninth year for Relationship to Partnership sessions, which allows attendees to meet with a large range of buyers.

"I think the key decision was in 2007 when we expanded from an event that only buyers at Purdue attended to include members of the Supplier Diversity Coalition of Greater Lafayette," he said. "Once we expanded, you not only had connections with Purdue but you also got to talk with businesses from around the state and the nation."

Over the years, Relationships to Partnerships has helped minority- and women-owned businesses meet clients such as Freitag-Weinhardt, State Farm Insurance, Caterpillar, Tate & Lyle, Ivy Tech Community College, Eli Lilly and Co., Kirby Risk, IU Health, Fifth Third Bank, Oerlikon Fairfield, Nanshan and Alcoa.

"Relationships with minority and women-owned businesses are very important to the operating procedures at Kettelhut Construction, Inc.," said Steve Habben, president of Kettelhut Construction in Lafayette, Ind. "Many of these relationships have been fostered at Purdue's annual Relationships to Partnerships Sessions."

Sahara Williams, president of Enginuity Engineering + Management in Indianapolis, said the conference has benefited her company.

"The event is a great way to meet decision-makers, not just from Purdue but from other area businesses as well," she said.

"We’re just trying to help our community become more diverse," Moore said. "These companies understand the changing demographics of our country and are responding to those changes. Our community is changing. We hope that these companies, as they grow, take a look at Lafayette. We want them to think about Lafayette as they grow."

This year, the plenary session is from 8-9:30 a.m. in Stewart Center, Room 218. Three concurrent sessions take place from 9:45-11 a.m. in Stewart Center. Session I, which is on construction, A/E and related services, will take place in Room 206. Session 2, which is on marketing, and computer and IT services, will be in Room 214 AB. Session 3, which is on products, goods and professional services other than A/E, is in Room 214 CD. The sessions will be followed by an awards luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Purdue Memorial Union's North Ballroom.

Those interested in attending this year's event can register online at http://www.conf.purdue.edu/R2P9 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu 

Sources: Jesse L. Moore Jr., 765-494-3739, jlmoore@purdue.edu

Steve Habben, 765-447-2181, sgh@kettelhut.com 

Sahara Williams, 317-297-5601