Seeing growth in minority- and women-owned businesses in the city, Lexington's government is holding its first vendor fair aimed at helping the companies make connections with city divisions, which are looking to purchase more from them.
The free Minority and Women Business Connection, to be held 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Phoenix Building, at Vine Street and Limestone, will also include presentations from city divisions including Parks and Recreation and General Services on upcoming projects.
"The benefit to the city is we are helping minority- and women-owned businesses grow and develop," said Marilyn Clark, the city's minority business enterprise liaison. "As they grow and develop, they fuel the economy just like everyone else."
Clark, who began in her position in April 2010, said the vendor fair should help businesses get a firmer understanding of the city government.
"The city seems very intimidating. It's large, and there are a lot of people who work here," she said. "I look at my job as being a navigator to help people navigate through the process.
"This is a great way to help people make face-to-face contact, establish relationships and learn how we purchase, and for the city divisions to learn the companies that are out there."
The fair will see representatives of the city's various divisions located at tables for businesses to visit and meet.
"That way, the businesses are not tied to a table," she said. "They can roam from division to division."
The event will also include information about the city's Minority Business Enterprise Program and Economic Engine electronic database system (https://lfucg.economicengine.com) that offers online bidding opportunities.
Clark is hoping for 100 to 150 businesses to register. Among those registered already is Pam McKinney of McKinney Painting in Versailles. She has led the business, which began in 1977, since 2001 when her husband died.
While she has done business with the city before, "as long as I have been doing this now, it always seems like nobody knows who we are because we haven't talked to that right person," she said. "It is tough, but they're also very accommodating. They'll pass the word on or give me the contact information of who I need. It's just not real streamlined."
McKinney said she's looking forward to the event and hopes it will raise her company's profile.
"There's a lot of competition now for jobs, and the more people that we can establish relationships with and promote ourselves to is a good thing," she said.