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First Small and Minority Vendor Showcase a Success


More than 50 vendors participated in the first Richland Two Small and Minority Vendor Showcase held on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. The showcase provided an opportunity for school and district staff to make connections with community businesses and for the local businesses to get to know the district better as well.

Richland Two is a big district and needs many services, said School Board Chair James Manning. Knowing which goods and services are readily available in the community is invaluable.

“This is a dream the board and district have had for a long time,” he said. “Many of these business owners are our parents and people we see in church and at the grocery store. We’re very excited about this opportunity to get to know them better.”

Shambi Broome is one of those parents/business owners. She owns Webgyrlz Code, which teaches girls in grades three through 12 how to code a web page using HTML5, CSS and Scratch Programming. She added that as a business owner the showcase shows the district is serious about partnering with the community. Broome has two children enrolled in the district and looks forward to bringing her camps to schools.

“Coding teaches life skills like problem solving and reinforces math concepts, Broome said. “They don’t even realize they’re learning.”

Community is one of the Four Squares to Success on which the district builds its plans. In her welcome, Superintendent Dr. Debbie Hamm said, “It’s important for our schools to know there is a wealth of resources right here in our community.”

Dr. Hamm encouraged the businesses to share not only the goods and services they can provide the district but to tell the district how it can help them.

Jennifer McClary attended the showcase for her son, Dj McC, who was unable to attend. In his defense, it’s because he’s a fifth-grade student at Forest Lake Elementary School and had a test.

“So often people in the community, especially if you’re new to business, don’t know how they can get in contact with the district,” said McClary. “This is a great opportunity to network and build connections.”

Down the aisle, representatives of Enviro AgScience, Inc. echoed some of McClary’s thoughts. The company is already an approved vendor and has provided construction management services in the past. They currently provide landscaping services to all district sites.

“We want to see something like this continue,” said Project Manager Patrick Livingston.

Showcases are opportunities to partner not only with the district but other vendors for other projects, he said.
A few tables over, Kristin Fleming Arnold had driven up from Charleston to attend the showcase. She is hoping to expand her business East Coast AP Marketing, which creates marketing materials like t-shirts and apparel and logos into the Midlands.

She said she was willing to make the trip because an event like this “gets me in front of the business.”

That was the point said Delores Coleman, Richland Two director of procurement. “District staff were happy with the meeting and felt like they were able to meet with vendors they didn’t know about, so I feel like the showcase did what we intended it to do.”

Later that night, Coleman and Chief Financial Officer Dr. Harry Miley presented the 2015-16 Minority Business Report at the Richland Two School Board meeting. The district, she reported far exceeded its goal of spending five percent on capital expenditures with minority vendors but fell short of its goal of spending 10 percent of its operating expenditures with minority business.

To bolster its efforts, the procurement department will begin to advertise in the South Carolina Business Opportunities (SCBO), a daily publication that lists proposed procurements involving goods, services, information technology and construction.

“We’re hoping that the vendor showcase we had today will help improve those numbers in the coming years,” Coleman said.