Purdue conference assists businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans

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Richard Miller, Danny Portee and Debra M. Simmons Wilson

Purdue University’s Office of Supplier Diversity Development, along with the Supplier Diversity Development Coalition of Greater Lafayette, will host the annual Relationships to Partnerships Sessions on Nov. 18 to help minority, women and veteran business owners in Indiana connect with coalition businesses.

The daylong conference, themed “A Salute to Veteran Entrepreneurship,” starts at 8 a.m. in Stewart Center. This is the 12th year for the sessions.

“This year’s panel discussion will be addressing issues identified as critically important by veteran-owned businesses,” said Jesse L. Moore Jr., director of Purdue’s Office of Supplier Diversity Development. “We have four panelists who will focus on a subject identified by veteran-owned businesses as where they need help: How do you find customers, and where are they?

“We also will recognize, as we always do, larger companies in our community who have upheld the goals and objectives of the coalition by identifying opportunities for diverse businesses. We met with a veteran business group earlier this year to identify their needs. It’s a segment of our business community that needs support. They’ve done their job for us by fighting for our freedom, and so I think Purdue and other businesses in the coalition want to help them in any way that we can.”

Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber, will be the conference’s luncheon keynote speaker. Brinegar joined the Indiana Chamber in 1992, became senior vice president of government affairs in 1997, and president and CEO in 2002.

“Our conference will be a week after the election, and we will have a new governor and a new president. I’ve asked Kevin to talk about the impact of the election on diverse Indiana businesses,” Moore said.

This year’s plenary session will be 8:30-10:30 a.m. in Stewart Center, Room 218, and will feature a panel discussion on “Key Elements of Finding and Securing Contracts.” Billie Dragoo, founder and CEO of RepuCare, which provides health care staffing, recruitment and outsources staffing solutions for governmental provider and employer health care programs.

Also on the panel:

  • Richard Miller, who launched Fineline Printing in 1981. Fineline Printing provides commercial graphics and mailing, with more than 60 employees. Miller is a founder and board member of the Indianapolis Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has served on the Indiana Chamber board of directors.
  • Danny Portee, owner and president of Professional Management Enterprises Inc. He directs and coordinates national sales, new business development, marketing and customer service. Portee is a board member for Jobs and Prosperity Task Force for American Solutions and the Hoosier Veteran Assistance Program. He served in the Army from 1983-2002.
  • Debra M. Simmons Wilson, managing principal for Engaging Solutions. She leads the diversity services sector and co-manages the planning community outreach sector. Also responsible for marketing and public relations, Simmons Wilson has more than 27 years of experience in the planning and transportation industries.

Two concurrent sessions take place 10:30 a.m. to noon in Stewart Center. Session 1, which is on construction, A/E and related services, will take place in Room 206. Session 2, which is on goods, marketing, IT and professional services other than A/E, will take place in Room 214 AB. A business resources and networking session from noon to 12:30 p.m. and an awards luncheon from 12:30-2 p.m. in Purdue Memorial Union’s North Ballroom will follow the sessions.

Also during the conference, the coalition will recognize three companies that exhibit “diversity and excellence.” Winners of the 2016 Golden Handshake Award are Wabash National, large company; Wabash Center, small diverse company; and Worldwide Filters and Supplies, veteran business.

“These three companies exemplify the mission and goals of the coalition,” Moore said.

Sponsors for this year’s conference include Caterpillar, City of Lafayette, City of West Lafayette, Fifth Third Bank, Greater Lafayette Commerce, Indiana University Health, Ivy Tech Community College, netlogx, Oerlikon Fairfield, Purdue University, Tippecanoe County and Wabash National.

Those interested in attending can register here. For more information, contact Linda Kelly at ljkelly@purdue.edu.

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