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June 2, 2008

Columbia to Expand Commitment to
Doing Business with Local Vendors

More than $16 million in business awarded to vendors
owned by minorities, women and neighbors in 2007

In order to build on its long-standing commitment to doing business with local vendors, especially those owned by minorities and women, Columbia University has launched a new initiative to help a larger number of qualified local businesses supply goods and services to the University.

"Columbia has a strong commitment to expanding economic opportunity in our local community," said Joseph Harney, vice president for procurement services. "This initiative is meant to build on that commitment and develop even more partnerships with minority, women and locally owned businesses. We are excited about the work we are doing with these firms and we want to lay a solid foundation for further growth in providing opportunities for new business development with Columbia."

The University spent approximately $73 million within the city limits last year for non-construction goods and services. More than $16 million of that total was spent within the New York Empowerment Zone—the 17 zip codes covering Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. This new initiative will expand local purchasing to include temporary staffing services and maintenance supplies.

Local vendors who may be able to help Columbia in meeting its needs in these two areas were invited to a recent meeting on campus to learn more about how the University contracts with vendors, as well as what the basic requirements are for doing business with the University. Participating firms must become certified as minority- or female-owned businesses, hold the necessary insurance coverage, and have the administrative and financial capacity.

"Based on what we learn and our level of success, we expect to expand the target areas to include other areas of goods and services used by Columbia," said D. Sean Johnson, manager of small business compliance and vendor outreach procurement services. "Our goal is to increase the number of minority, women and locally owned businesses with whom we have partnerships. But we also want those partnerships to be meaningful and beneficial for both parties, so we are starting with a focus on temporary staffing services and maintenance. We look forward to expanding this effort to other procurement areas."

Columbia is collaborating with the NY/NJ Minority Supplier Development Council and NYC Small Business Services, through its Business Solutions Center managed by Seedco, a national economic empowerment organization. The initiative provides advice on certification procedures, training and mentoring in an effort to build long-term successful relationships with the vendors.

"We want to augment the core competencies of small business owners to work with institutions like Columbia," said Kevin Wells, general counsel for the Minority Supplier Development Council. He encouraged potential vendors and consultants to "find a niche" that would allow them to offer Columbia cost-savings measures, innovation and benefits of an ongoing partnership.

"We are excited to launch this initiative in partnership with Columbia," said Steve Cohen, vice president of Seedco. "We look forward to helping small businesses located in Upper Manhattan with the tools necessary to work with the University."

To learn more about the program, visit www.columbia.edu/purchasing.