More than 300 small businesses and 60 large contractors converged on Gengras Student Union on Thursday, June 21 for the Connecticut Business Advantage 2012 Matchmaker Conference, an event co-sponsored by the University's Entrepreneurial Center.
Governor Malloy opened the day by asserting his determination to support small businesses in Connecticut. "Job growth is small business," he said, "Job growth, in particular, is new small business . . . that's where most jobs will be created." He congratulated the conference participants for surviving the four worst years since the Great Depression and assured the crowd that the situation in Connecticut is improving and that the state government is supporting this by investing in infrastructure.
This optimistic attitude permeated the conference as small and large businesses sat down to build new business relationships that could lead to subcontracting opportunities. This conference offers a vitally important role to both large contractors interested in expanding their subcontractor and supplier list and small businesses that are capable of filling that need. By law, the large companies that are awarded government contracts must subcontract a percentage of that work to small businesses. At the conference, small businesses had the opportunity to meet with large contractors and present the goods and services they provide in a series of 10 minute one-on-one sessions, giving them an invaluable opportunity to develop new opportunities and partnerships.
According to Denise Merrill, the Connecticut Secretary of the State and one of the opening speakers at this year’s Matchmaker Conference, an average of 30% of attendees at these types of events develop connections that turn into business contracts related to government contracting.
Joan Davidson of Hamilton Sundstrand, a prime contractor headquartered in Windsor Locks, CT that earned $6.2 billion in 2011, observed, “Normally prime contractors are sitting in the office. This conference gives us the opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with a supplier and engage in a conversation. It’s the most valuable ten minutes a supplier can spend and it’s valuable for the prime contractors as well.”
The Connecticut Business Advantage 2013 Matchmaker Conference will return next June, but government contracting opportunities are available throughout the year. The Entrepreneurial Center, in conjunction with their Conference partners listed below, offers free and low-cost business counseling to businesses interested in developing government contracting opportunities as well as those looking for general business coaching/training. More information is available at www.hartford.edu/ec.
The Connecticut Business Advantage 2012 Matchmaker Conference was presented by the University of Hartford’s Center for Professional Development, Entrepreneurial Center, & SBA Women's Business Center; CT Department of Administrative Services; CT Department of Economic and Community Development; CT Secretary of the State; CT Procurement Technical Assistance Program; U.S. General Services Administration; and U.S. Small Business Administration, CT District.
For the sixth year in a row, the government has missed its goal to award 23% of all federal contract dollars to small businesses. This article shows why Matchmaker events are so important!