YSU Procurement Offers Business Opportunities

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When it comes to aiding businesses in the Mahoning Valley, Youngstown State University has plenty to offer beyond the Small Business Development Center and student interns. 

Through the procurement services department at the university, area companies can sell supplies and services to YSU, said director Dave McCracken at the inaugural Procurement Showcase Wednesday. On the list of contracts YSU has with companies are travel services, accounts payable to outside vendors, a commercial card or travel card program and strategic sourcing, McCracken said. 

Any businesses in the region could be looking to start a relationship with YSU, McCracken said. There’s no particular size or category of business the department is looking for at the moment, he added.

“It’s really based on companies being successful, companies committing a lot of time to get into this market,” said Rich Delisio, a procurement specialist at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. “Once you’re in the market, it’s definitely a lot easier than that first entry.” 

Information on what the YSU procurement office is looking for, as well as requirements for working with the university, is available here. By making a business relationship with YSU, it could expand into other contracts through the Inter-University Council and even other organizations that interact with the procurement department at YSU, McCracken said.

Delisio told how companies should research relationship requirements for doing business with other colleges and universities across Ohio, as well as with the federal government, which includes learning what each entity buys, identifying who could be potential partners.

“Eighty percent of all commerce starts with search,” Delisio said. “That’s how people buy and sell all the time.” 

Companies that try to work with dozens of agencies across multiple levels of government can easily find themselves in over their heads, he cautioned. 

He also advised companies to avoid “chasing pennies” and going after contracts with slim profit margins, Delisio said. The more knowledge and information someone has, the better, he added. 

“I tell my clients to get a whiteboard,” Delisio said. “You have to know your product. You have to know your service. You have to be an expert. As you get involved and as you develop where you’re going, you’ll know if it’s a good fit for you and you’ll know if it’s a response that you can move forward.” 

During the vetting process, Ohio University’s procurement department looks at references through group purchasing organizations, the state of Ohio and Inter-University Council Purchasing Group, McCracken said. References from someone’s current customer list are also contacted to understand what kind of opportunity and experience those other customers have had with that same supplier so there’s an understanding of what kind of opportunity the department might experience in the future, he added. 

“Our goal is to work with the college and the departments to identify some of their challenges and obstacles, and help them develop solutions for what they’re facing,” he said. “We have gaps in our supply chain. We’re going to look to fill those gaps with the best strategic sources we can and to leverage those as best we can.” 

Pictured: Dave McCracken, director of procurement services at Youngstown State University, led a seminar Wednesday on businesses can sell to the university.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.