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Building Local Fair Leads to New Partnerships With Local Businesses
Last May, the Office of Community Engagement and the Division of Business, Finance and Administrative Services hosted Syracuse University’s first-ever Building Local procurement fair.
The fair introduced local business enterprises—including those owned by women, minorities, veterans and others (referred to collectively as XBEs)—to opportunities with the University; helped local businesses and XBEs understand the goods and services used and needed by the University; and provided information on how to gain diverse business certifications.
The connections made at that fair have begun to bear fruit on both sides. Laura Cueva, the owner of Interior Innovations, attended the Building Local fair. Her contract furniture and interior architectural solutions firm is located on East Genesee Street, not far from the University. At the fair, she had met with representatives from the University’s Purchasing Department to outline the capabilities of her firm and discuss potential opportunities for doing business with the University and its business units.
“The opportunity to attend the Building Local fair was a dream come true, bringing together the right group of decision makers and allowing local suppliers like Interior Innovations the opportunity to present what we can do,” said Cueva.
In the intervening months, the Purchasing Department, in conjunction with Campus Planning, Design and Construction, prepared a request for proposal (RFP) for its open line furniture business, which included Claridge, ERG International, Source International, Human Scale and Kreuger International. The awarding of the RFP would mean that the University would buy its furniture from those lines from one firm.
Building on their interaction at the Building Local event, the Purchasing Department included Interior Innovations in the RFP, and in January, Laura Cueva and her firm were awarded the bid.
Vince Patriarco, the University’s executive director of purchasing, says that the success of Interior Innovations validates using local suppliers, and shows they can compete with larger firms and provide the University with best-in-class service.
“The proposal from Interior Innovations demonstrated a very clear value proposition to the University,” said Patriarco. “The pricing was great and the value-added services made our decision an easy one.”
In Cueva’s eyes, what the University did with the Building Local fair should be standard practice.
“Local sourcing shows Syracuse University’s commitment to the local economy and that being a good neighbor is also good business,” said Cueva. “The University is setting a standard all businesses should follow.”
Plans are already underway for the 2020 Building Local fair.