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For some small businesses to grow, all it takes is someone to take a chance and get them a foot in the door. It is not the question of whether a company can perform, but whether it will get a opportunity to prove it can. The Kent State Supplier Diversity Program makes these opportunities available.

"The university has really put a focus on creating an inclusive environment and actively engaging in looking for minority businesses to include a diverse environment at Kent State," said Larry McWilliams, assistant manager for Kent State's Procurement Department.

Kent State University is a member of the IUCPG, which establishes various price agreements, and served as lead institution on a recent Request for Proposal process to award the contract for household and on-campus moving services for the council's 14 members. The aggregated contracting saves money, leverages resources and diversifies the supplier base of the member institutions.

Of the four contracts awarded, one went to American Shipping and Packaging Inc., doing business as ASAP Movers, a full service shipping company.

"It's gratifying to see a business that Kent State has worked with bid and win a competitive award at the state level," said McWilliams.

ASAP Movers is a former participant in the Partnership for the Minority Business Accelerator (PMBA) — a collaborative partnership among Kent State, Akron Urban League and Akron SCORE to offer a minority business accelerator program to African American- and Hispanic-owned companies with annual revenue up to $2.5 million that are doing business in Medina, Portage and Summit counties.

"This contract is a great opportunity for us to continue our growth and solidify our relationship with Kent State," said Don Carthorn, CEO of ASAP Movers. "With the help of the Kent State staff, we've been able to forge a deeper relationship through the services we provide."

Although Carthorn said ASAP Movers does business with other colleges in the area, he said Kent State's Diversity Program is unique because they really reach out make opportunities available instead of just talking about it.

State-supported institutions have a state-mandated goal of doing 15 percent of their business with minority business enterprises. It's a win-win situation for all. ASAP Movers thrives, and the state's 14 higher education institutions benefit from competitive pricing and purchasing economies.

"We want to help create and ensure more opportunities for minority suppliers to compete for contracts with the university and improve our bottom line by increasing the level of completion to get the most competitive price for services," said Veronica Cook-Euell, Supplier Diversity Program Manager.

The Kent State Supplier Diversity Program ensures an active and full participation of historically disadvantaged, economically and socially underutilized businesses. It recognizes supplier diversity as an important component of its overall diversity effort and fosters continuous relationships with minority suppliers.

"It's important to show our commitment to a diverse pool of suppliers and ensure that we are providing opportunities to all different types of businesses," said Cook-Euell. "We realize the value in having a diverse supplier base to choose from."

For more information on ASAP Movers visit http://www.asapcompany.net/web/ASAPALT.htm