20 August 2009 | Jake Kanter
US government buyers are embarking on a major push to improve opportunities for minority-owned and small suppliers to win their business.
Purchasers will hold or attend more than 200 procurement conferences in the next 90 days to advertise deals - including those made available through the government's stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - and build relationships with vendors.
As part of the plans, the Small Business Administration - an organisation that supports and promotes SMEs in the US - and the Department of Commerce will provide training to government departments on working with minority-owned and small suppliers.
Commerce secretary Gary Locke and head of the Small Business Administration Karen Mills will also attend events and publicise information on potential deals.
US vice-president Joe Biden said in a statement: "The president and I are committed to ensuring that small and minority-owned businesses are part of our economic recovery every step of the way. By taking advantage of the expertise of an array of companies, we are going to be able to build a stronger, more secure foundation for long-term economic growth."
Over the past 40 years, minority-owned businesses have grown in number from 300,000 to nearly 4 million in the US, Locke said.