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SPC seeks minority, women-owned business partners

Mark Parker



St. Petersburg College is launching new programs to inspire entrepreneurship and innovation. Photo provided.

Officials with St. Petersburg College have reaffirmed their commitment to increasing diversity among contractors and vendors and are hosting an informational event to enhance recruitment efforts.

As part of the college’s initiative to make supplier diversity a specific, collegewide objective, its finance and business operations team is inviting local companies to attend a program event Sept. 22 in its Downtown Center at 244 2nd Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. Attendees will learn how they can partner on upcoming capital and technology projects and help strengthen the community.

Janette Hunt, vice president of finance and business operations, said that diversity was always part of SPC’s procurement discussions. However, she said officials have recently implemented a strategic plan to bolster efforts.

“What has happened in the last several months is a very intentional look and review of our processes,” said Hunt. “Making sure that when we’re talking with our vendors, they understand our position.”

She credited the support and guidance of President Dr. Tonjua Williams and the board of trustees for making the implementation process seamless.

Hunt expressed the importance of allowing local minority, woman-owned and small businesses to compete for project funding when a large institution, such as SPC, chooses its partners. She said that money then stays and permeates through the community.

Janette Hunt, vice president of finance and business operations.

The program is open to all businesses and service providers, explained Hunt, which SPC chooses according to its needs. Business leaders register for free on the program’s website and then bid on open opportunities.

Hunt noted the diversity of SPC’s students and said the program allows them to see that the college aligns its money with its stated values.

“I think it’s important that they will see a representation of themselves,” she added. “Whether it be in teaching or our businesses.”

SPC created a Supplier Diversity Committee representing several departments and administrative positions across the college. They oversee procurement selection and focus on creating opportunities for underrepresented businesses.

If a registered company loses out on a bid, Hunt said college officials would remain in contact and provide information on upcoming projects and events – similar to Thursday’s inaugural meeting. Money awarded to members of the supplier diversity program will come out of SPC’s general fund – as with any other company – but she said there are specific goals within certain projects.

“So, like capital projects,” explained Hunt. “Within that capital budget, we would be looking for a percentage of that project to go towards supplier diversity.”

Anyone interested in partnering with SPC through its supplier diversity program is welcome to register and attend the event, said Hunt. Participants will also have the chance to explore the college’s new Center for Economic Impact and Inclusion. She added that the facility is opening soon, and attendees would receive “a first look” while learning about its purpose and the opportunities it will provide to the community.

Hunt noted students from the College of Business would also participate in the event and called that “a great start” to incorporating them into the initiative’s mission.

Hunt noted the importance of students seeing a representation of themselves in faculty and business partners.

Hunt believes the program will provide endless opportunities as the college develops it, including creating pathways to match students with local businesses. “I’m extremely excited,” she added.

“I just think this is only the beginning for this program,” said Hunt. “I feel like this is something that could grow into so, so much more. I’m really proud to be a part of this and be part of a solution in our Pinellas County community.”

For more information, visit the website here.

To register in advance, visit the website here.


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