For the past nine months, board members from Cumberland and Hoke counties’ largest agencies have been meeting and talking. They’ve been discussing how to do more local business, using the millions of dollars they spend every year on things like supplies for schools, services for towns and raw materials for building projects. Born from these meetings, the Building Better Business Rally is coming to the Fayetteville Technical Community College campus Tuesday, May 22, from 3-7 p.m. Functioning as a sort of reverse vendor fair – the purchasing powers will court local businesses instead of the otherway around – it will be the largest rally of its kind to take place in this area.
Purchasing and procurement representativesfrom participating entities will be set up at tables,ready to explain to local businesses what they need in terms of customer service, goods, and services and how to work with their organizations. The agencies that will be present are Cumberland County, Hoke County, Cumberland County Schools, the city of Fayetteville, the town of Hope Mills, the town of Spring Lake, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville Public Works Commission, Cape Fear Valley Health System, Fayetteville Area System of Transit, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Kaufman-Lynn and PCH Holdings will also be present, two companies heavily involved with the new downtown baseball stadium and its related downtown renovation projects.
These are the people who make decisions for where millions of dollars will be spent. Cumberland County Schools estimates spending $10 million a year on instructional and custodial supplies, information technology and construction, according toWilson Lacy, CCS executive director of operations. The town of Hope Mills projects that over the next five years, it will spend over $34 million on facilities, public works, transportation, public safety, storm water and cultural and recreation projects, said Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner. Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said the city is currently creating its budget. He cited the $38 million investment into the baseball stadium and the $250,000 investment into the Civil War History Center as two recent examples of how and where the city is spending its money.
Colvin said this rally is one strong example within a growing pattern of the community “relying on great partnerships and collaboration to drive economic development.
“The city of Fayetteville, and by extension Cumberland County, has put a lot of effort into economic development, as exemplified by the ...baseball stadium that will soon be home to a Class A Advanced Astros-sponsored team, and more than $60 million in private investment from Prince Charles Holdings. That project shows great collaboration between the public and private sectors. We’ve also seen the results of the city-county-PWC partnership that brought us the Franklin Street Parking Deck, a project that is moving towards being self-sustaining with the large number of (downtown events). We’ve also been strengthening our relationships with the Fayetteville-Cumberland Economic Development Corporation and Greater Fayetteville Chamber to help drive more development and jobs to the area.”
The name of the Building Better Business Rally is borrowed from the similar but much smaller scale version of this event PWC has spear headed for the last four years. Carolyn Justice-Hinson, PWC’s communications/community relations officer, said, “Our board hears things like, ‘I don’t know how to do business with you,’ or ‘I didn’t know about these opportunities.’ We want to make sure we’ve done everything possible to present (that information). It’s up to the businesses to take advantage of (the opportunities). Instead of having to visit every one of these (organizations), they’ll have all the opportunities available to them in one place.”
Justice-Hinson stressed that this event is not only an invaluable opportunity for local suppliers, professional service providers and prime and subcontractors of all sizes, but also for anyone with entrepreneurial leanings. “Even people who maybe don’t own a business but they’re thinking about it – if they walkin and start talking to these organizations ... We can tell them the types of jobs that we don’t get a lot of bidders on,” she said. “Or, (we can tell them) we really need a local business that can do this. This can give them the ideas, and then, we’ll also have organizations there that can help them learn how to start that business. … A lot of it is the networking, too.”
Organizations to be present that support businesses through financial and qualification assistance include the Small Business Administration, NC Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Small Business Technology Center, Veteran’s Business Outreach Center, Women’s Business Center, FTCC Small Business Center, North Carolina Military Business Center, Center for Economic Empowerment and Development Capital Loan Program and the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.
Representatives from Fayetteville-Cumberland Economic Development Corporation and the towns of Eastover, Stedman and Wade will also be in attendance, though not set up at tables.
Business breakout sessions will occur at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Horace Sisk Building, adjacent to the gym where the rally will take place. At 4 p.m., attendees have two options: “How to Fund Your Opportunity,” with an introduction to bonding, presented by the CEED Capital Loan Program and The Institute; or a certification readiness class presented by the NC Department of Administration’s Historically Underutilized Businesses Office. At 6 p.m., attendees can choose between “How to be a Sub-Contractor” presented byThe Institute or “Learning about Capability Statements” presented by the Small Business Tech Center and NC Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
The free Building Better Business Rally will take place in FTCC’s Horace Sisk Gym, 2201 Hull Rd., from 3-7 p.m., Tuesday, May 22. Pre-registration is encouraged, though not required. Register at faybids.com.The website has a “Local Buyer Links” column with information on many of the participating organizations so attendees can come prepared to take maximum advantage of the day. When a business owner registers, they’ll also be given the opportunity to have their basic contact information shared with all the participating agencies.