MSU co-hosting IHL minority vendor fair


Mississippi State University is supporting initiatives of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning to significantly increase diversity among higher education vendors through an event designed to help minority businesses gain more access in the bidding process.

MSU and the University of Mississippi will co-host a minority vendor fair on June 18 in Oxford. The event offers face-to-face opportunities for dialogue and networking between minority business owners and university leaders.

"Minority Business Expo: Making The University Connection" begins at 1 p.m. in the Jackson Avenue Center Multipurpose Room near the Ole Miss campus. Online registration is available through and early registration is encouraged.

The IHL Board created the Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative to facilitate greater synergy between minority business and the state's eight universities. The program provides tools to enable minority businesses to increase interaction on quote and bid submissions for goods and services utilized by IHL institutions.

Other institutions expects to participate in the initiative include Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

IHL has contracted with, a Web-based platform that connects vendors to buyers through its quote feature. Minority companies post information about their business and the goods and services they provide. Universities send and receive quotes, proposals and subcontracting opportunities through the online system. This benefits minority businesses with awareness of opportunities and enables them to respond using the website's easy-to-use method.

While any business can be listed on the site, minority businesses are recruited for inclusion in the featured listing section, which provides access to the Quote, RFP, Subcontracting Opportunity solicitations.

Procurement officers at each of Mississippi's public universities have been trained how to post opportunities to the site and retrieve quotes and information from the vendors.

"MSU is constantly seeking out new suppliers so we can expand the number of companies participating in the public procurement process," said Don Buffum, MSU director of procurement and contracts. "We do this by urging departments to seek additional quotes or to try new vendors, actively seeking out new vendors at trade shows, conducting 'Doing Business With MSU' seminars, and by maintaining an open-door policy to meet with new vendors.

"Co-hosting the minority vendor fair with Ole Miss on June 18 provides us a great opportunity to implement all those strategies in a single venue," said Buffum. "By locating small and minority vendors, we are able to provide our departments with more potential sources while also making a valuable contribution to the economy."

The ability to use the site to request quotes and track the outcome will save universities time and effort, said Hank Bounds, state commissioner of higher education.

"It will also provide data for future decision-making," he said.

For direct contact with the MSU Office of Procurement and Contracts, call Buffum at 662-325-2861 or email To visit the IHL's website, go to

Sid Salter | University Relations

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