(left to right): Marcus Thompson, (Chief Administrative Officer, Office of the Commissioner), Dr. Hank Bounds, Ph.D. (Commissioner of Higher Education), Kathy Y. Times, (co-founder, WhereToGo411.com), Bob Owens, (IHL Board of Trustees President), and Miss. State Senator John Horhn
Jackson, MS (BlackNews.com) -- All eight of Mississippi's public universities will use the national Web site WhereToGo411.com as part of the new Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative launched by Mississippi's Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). State IHL Board of Trustees President Bob Owens and Higher Education Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds announced the historic partnership during a news conference today at a vendor fair held on the campus of Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.
WhereToGo411.com is a national Web site whose mission is to help grow black enterprises by connecting them to both local and national buyers.
Owens and Bounds unveiled the Minority Economic Opportunity (MEO) Initiative, which is designed to help Mississippi Public Universities increase the participation of minority-owned businesses in competing for contracts for the provision of goods and/or services.
WhereToGo411.com co-founder Kathy Y. Times, an Emmy award-winning journalist and the immediate past president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and founder and entrepreneur, James Covington, launched WhereToGo411.com and the WhereToGo411 Mobile App in May 2012. The company is based in Jackson, Miss.
The site features thousands of minority and majority-owned companies. A new addition to the site is the Quotes Feature, which connects African-American businesses with real time quote requests for goods and services from Mississippi Public Universities and other buyers. The mobile app connects users to thousands of African American-owned companies as well as places of interest and events around the nation.
"We commend Dr. Bounds and President Owens and the IHL Board of Trustees for laying the foundation for more inclusion in the procurement process," said Covington. "This is a game changer, and we encourage other state agencies to follow IHL's lead in expanding procurement opportunities to minority businesses. We also encourage African-American businesses to take advantage of this opportunity to grow their business."
Times said, "As a journalist and a national advocate, I connected with countless people struggling to find work, start businesses, and rebuild their lives after the recession. If this MEO Initiative is successful, it will result in more dollars flowing to minority enterprises, more jobs in urban communities, and a stronger Mississippi and national economy."
Mississippi State Senators John Horhn and Willie Simmons also attended the news conference and lauded the initiative and plans for using WhereToGo411.com. Horhn is chairman of the senate Economic Development Committee, and Simmons is chairman of the Highways and Transportation Committee.
WhereToGo411.com will co-sponsor vendor fairs with university partners throughout the spring and summer of 2013 to introduce business owners to the initiative and WhereToGo411.com.
The next vendor fair will be held in Itta Bena at Mississippi Valley State University on May 22 from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at the Lackey Recreation Center. Visit WhereToGo411.com for registration and vendor information. A vendor fair is also scheduled for June 18 at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Other vendor fairs are being scheduled at Alcorn State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, and Delta State University. Businesses can sign up for the Featured Business Listing at an annual cost or a free listing at www.WhereToGo411.com.
Kathy Y. Times