Recently, my colleagues and I travelled to the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, KY for the annual KCTCS Supplier Diversity Fair. We arrived at the convention center early and decided to go exploring. Downtown Frankfort has a very small-town Appalachian appeal to it. The buildings and lofts lining the downtown area have a lot of history. We decided to get some breakfast and found a nice Cracker Barrell about 10 minutes away.
The supplier diversity fair itself was steady when it came to attendee traffic. Over 80 procurement officials from K-12 and Higher education institutions around the state of Kentucky attended the event. Exhibitors ranged from IT, facilities management, flooring, windows, janitorial supplies and interior design. The companies that exhibited were woman-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned. The event was broken down into 4 breakout sessions that allowed vendors and attendees to listen to keynote speakers on how to do business with institutions such as The University of Kentucky and The University of Louisville. Door prizes were given away during the breakout sessions. The prizes varied from $100 gift cards to Yeti thermos mugs.
Working the Strategic Communications booth, I spoke with several procurement directors regarding our capabilities and what we have done with other educational institutions such as The University of Louisville and Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). The conversations covered a variety of needs from audio video collaboration to Cloud services, managed services and cyber security. During my discussions with the attendees, I learned cyber security was a hot topic and major focus. With so many students bringing in their own mobile devices that connect to their network, it becomes a difficult challenge for IT departments to manage.
Overall, the event wasn’t bad considering that it was free. KCTCS does value diversity in the vendors they do business with. They made it a point for vendors to be persistent when pursing business with educational institutions. Keep knocking on doors, developing relationships and responding to RFPs. Business doesn’t fall in your lap, you must go out and take it.
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