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Making Contacts, Winning Contracts

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Hundreds of local businesses took advantage of networking with state and local contract decision makers.

Hundreds of local businesses jammed Stony Brook University recently to take part in the 2014 Long Island Community and Economic Development (LICED) Conference, presented by the State University of New York (SUNY) and New Millennium Development Services Inc. The June 17 event, held at the Charles B. Wang Center, offered small businesses as well as Minority/Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) and Veteran-Owned companies the chance to network with some of the largest New York State and local contract decision makers.

The conference was designed to strengthen the local communities by bringing contracting opportunities to Long Island businesses. “The event was organized, productive and helpful to us small businesses,” said Linda Cazzola from industrial-supply company 3 Gals Industrial. More than 700 participants spent the day attending workshops, learning from industry speakers, and networking with exhibitors. Barbara Chernow, Senor Vice President for Administration at Stony Brook University said, “We know that Stony Brook University’s strength is in the diversity of its students, faculty and staff. We also believe that encouraging and supporting programs like this one will increase the diversity of our vendors and contractors.”

A new component of the conference was the Business Matchmaking session, during which buyers and sellers met for 10-minute appointments. Over the course of the two-hour speed networking session, a total of 624 appointments resulted in 52 buyers being matched with 80 sellers. “One MWBE reported to me that the Business Matchmaking session was more beneficial to his business than any marketing he has done on his own over the past six months,” said Pamela Swanigan, SUNY Director of University-wide Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Programs.

The new Business Matchmaking session featured 10-minute speed networking meetings.

The LICED Conference was supported by local elected officials, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Deputy Executive for Health and Human Services Phillip Elliott. In addition, video greetings were presented from U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Alfonso David, Esq., representing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Also, for the first time, the University-wide MWBE Program Office presented Excellence in MWBE Participation Awards. Stony Brook University was awarded Most Improved Campus, and the Highest and Most Consistent MWBE Participation Levels with both MBEs and WBEs was awarded to Purchase College. Two Stony Brook staff members were individually recognized for the Most Innovative in use of strategic tools to maximize MWBE Outreach: Assistant Director of Contracts Mary LaCorte and Contracts Officer John Mastromarino, in the Office of Procurement.

The event organizers agreed that conferences such as these are vitally important in helping small businesses form beneficial connections. “The success of this outreach event is indicative of SUNY’s serious commitment to positively impacting the economy of the communities linked to our campuses,” said Swanigan.

The conference exhibitors showcased a number of SUNY campuses. Joining Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Hospital were representatives from SUNY New Paltz, Purchase College, Farmingdale State College, Downstate Medical Center and Upstate Medical University.

— Joan Dickinson

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