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Contact: Sharla Roberts
Office: (312) 413-2274

April 23, 2018

U of I to host supplier diversity fair
First-time event promotes opportunities for diverse businesses

URBANA, Ill. – The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will host a first-ever outreach event next month to expand business opportunities on the state’s largest campus for firms owned by minorities, women, veterans and people with disabilities.

The inaugural Diverse Business Opportunity Fair invites companies to connect with staff from more than 30 campus units and explore opportunities in all areas of university spending, from construction and food services to office and athletic supplies.

Expanding diversity – from enrollment to the businesses that provide goods and services – is a priority across the U of I System, including a challenge by the Board of Trustees to develop a program for suppliers that will stand as a national model for higher education.

The May 18 business fair in Urbana-Champaign will be the first to showcase opportunities on a single campus, and similar events are planned at the system’s universities in Chicago and Springfield. For six years, an annual Professional Services Diversity Symposium in Chicago has highlighted system-wide opportunities in selected areas, such architecture, information technology and legal services.

President Tim Killeen said the business fair is part of ongoing outreach efforts that seek to foster new connections to lift businesses and ensure that system’s vendor network mirrors the diversity of state and nation.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to meet prospective suppliers, and for them to learn more about our wide-ranging needs and how they can join our network of vendors,” Killeen said. “We hope the relationships we cultivate will create successful partnerships that will serve our university and their businesses for years to come.”

The event, sponsored by the U of I System’s Office of Procurement Diversity, is open to all businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and people with disabilities who are interested in doing business with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Procurement Diversity Director Sharla Roberts said the fair is a unique opportunity for businesses to meet decision makers and learn more about operational needs that generate more than $2 billion in annual spending across the U of I System, from major contracts to smaller emergency purchases.

“This is a must-attend event for diverse firms to gain access to the university system’s tremendous spending power,” Roberts said.

The fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18 in the nearly 7,000-square-foot Illinois Ballroom at the I-Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St, Champaign, IL 61820. Registration is strongly encouraged at  


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with more than 83,000 students, nearly 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.