September 2018 Newsletter

September 2018 Beyond the Finish Line e-newsletter

Supplier Summit Builds Trust with Vendors

A representative of local government talks with a supplier at the September 2018 Supplier SummitChances are if you work for the City, you come in contact with “stuff.” Whether it is a tangible material like office supplies, or something more intangible like a focus group process, we all use and buy stuff on a regular basis. Our work purchases are accountable to the public as we are stewards of public funds. Rather than viewing purchasing as another box to check in order to get a project to completion, the Purchasing team actively engages with internal City work groups and external vendors to create relationships that reflect our organization’s values.

At this past month’s annual Supplier Summit, the Equity in Contracting program (EIC) and Purchasing Office invited nine City work groups and 14 partner agencies to meet with 120 regional vendors looking to sell their goods and services to governmental organizations. The goal of the event was to educate and connect, with this year’s theme to “make every connection matter.” Education about doing business with local government and finding assistance to develop a strong business model is key to creating a larger, more diverse and qualified supplier pool. After attending the Summit one vendor noted, “I found out that the City of Eugene has more than one Qualified Pool relevant to my field,” and another commented, “I was not yet aware that the airport had grown sufficiently that they would now be a potential customer for our buses.” This is a common oversight, and one that the Supplier Summit and the EIC Program are actively trying to change.

The Purchasing team is available to talk through projects, find a buying process that works for City work groups, and discuss large and small ways to incorporate equity into buying practice. The EIC Program Coordinator, Abby Alway, explains, “When you can make a purchase that isn’t just cost-based, but ‘values-based’ instead, you have a chance to be more innovative and more inclusive, and that directly aligns with City values. Everybody is spending money. There are ways to think about our purchases in the larger sense – to redefine the meaning of value.”  

By actively working to build relationships with both buyers and suppliers, more interesting and effective connections are made in the process.  At the end of the day, more and better work gets done, and the future looks a little different than it did before. To learn more about the EIC program or the Supplier Summit, contact Abby Alway, 541-682-5058.