The Chamber hosted its second “Procurement Expo” last week, providing local businesses the opportunity to meet the people responsible for purchasing at various government entities.  We welcomed representatives from most of the taxing bodies in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, all eager to show their “business friendly” side.

Each of the government organizations had a table with information and people on hand to answer questions and talk about what and how they buy.  Business people could go from table to table, visiting with the procurement and finance officers and networking directly with people who make buying decisions.

The chief administrators of the three municipal governments shared their approach to purchasing and local collaboration.  Oak Park Village Manager Cara Pavlicek, River Forest Village Manager Eric Palm and Forest Park Village Administrator Tim Gillian graciously donated their time to personally attend with their staffs. 

Representatives from the school districts, the park districts, the libraries, the housing entities and the townships were on hand as well.  Each has different needs and procedures for purchasing, some more formal than others.  In addition to finding out what types of goods and services the organizations purchase, businesses were able to learn about how to get on any approved vendors lists, how Request For Proposals (RFPs) are disseminated, how small purchases (like catering or office supplies) are made and whether there are specific policies pertaining to buying local.

Chamber members in attendance included business owners in information technology, consulting, promotional material, catering, advertising, printing, insurance, legal services and other industries. 

Understanding that sometimes it is difficult for small business owners to leave the store or office long enough to attend events, we created a print directory listing contact information of many of the local government procurement representatives.  Where possible, organizations provided a brief description of what they typically purchase and links to online information.  The free directories are available in the Chamber of Commerce office while they last.

Many thanks to West Suburban Hospital for hosting the event, our organizer Lee Owens of Name on Anything, our sponsors and our volunteers.  You’ll find them listed in the directory.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...