The Itasca Job Growth Task Force initiated the “Business Bridge” concept to more effectively facilitate purchasing connections between the region’s small and growing companies to larger, more established organizations. Small business leaders told the Task Force that a significant challenge they face is gaining access to large companies. Securing a large company as a client can have a tremendous impact on the trajectory of a company by establishing a stable revenue stream and credibility for investors and other clients. One of Minnesota’s greatest assets is its substantial number of leading companies. However, the Task Force also heard that despite interest in finding innovative and differentiated solutions from companies based in this market, sourcing departments at large companies face significant challenges in sorting through potential suppliers to find the most innovative, responsive suppliers capable of meeting the needs of leading companies.
In 2011 and 2012, the Itasca Project piloted Supplier Showcases featuring emerging local companies as a first step to bring both sides together in a way that helps make the right connections with the right individuals. Founding members of Business Bridge have tested and confirmed a set of principles for operationalizing Business Bridge in any procurement organization. Currently, the effort is focused on increasing the number of large companies in the state that incorporate Business Bridge principles into their procurement practices.
Business Bridge Principles
- Establish leadership commitment to buying local to support economic development
- Share the case for buying local within procurement and with business partners the organizations
- Operationalize Business Bridge principles, beginning with indirect spend:
- Assign responsibility to staff for identifying local vendors
- Edit sourcing or supplier diversity processes to include local vendor identification
- Ensure staff have tools to identify local vendors that can meet company needs
- Measure RFP inclusion and / or $ spend with MN / W. WI vendors
- Set goals for RFP inclusion and / or $ spend with MN / W. WI vendors
- Track purchasing results and share progress with Business Bridge partners
The concept for a “Business Bridge” between our region’s large and small companies was developed by the Itasca Project Job Growth Task Force, led by:
* Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman, Carlson Companies
* Ken Powell, Chairman and CEO, General Mills
* Chris O’Connell, Executive Vice President and Group President, Medtronic
* Michael Gorman, Managing Director, Split Rock Partners
The Founding Members have provided guidance and oversight of the Business Bridge initiative. The Founding Members include senior supply chain executives from leading private sector companies based in Minneapolis-St Paul.
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