Money is out there to be made, if you know whom to talk to.
Small- and large-business owners will be able press flesh and swap business cards with purchasing agents from government agencies and private industry from 8 a.m. to noon March 28 at the "Meet the Buyers Fair." The fair, sponsored by the Northern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce, will be at the Sheraton International at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The purchasing agents control the purse strings to $60 million, said Kirk J. Falk, who is handling the fair for the chamber.
Organizers predict a strong turnout from Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties and the city for the fair, where more than 90 agencies and companies are expected to be represented.
Baltimore Gas and Electric, Westinghouse, Toyota and American Isuzu Motors are among the companies that have signed up, along with government agencies such as the Mass Transit Administration and the National Security Agency.
Mr. Falk said one reason that so many government agencies are interested in the fair is that Gov. Parris N. Glendening created a task force in October to make the state's procurement process easier for business owners to understand.
Leonard Elenowitz, who will be at the fair giving businesses owners advice on how to navigate their way through the procurement process, said: "It's easy for someone to get confused and very frustrated. It's difficult to repeatedly hear 'I don't know who you should talk to.' "
Mr. Elenowitz works with the Maryland Small Business Network Lead Center, which is part of the state's Office of Business and Economic Development.
The network lead center is one of the fair's eight corporate sponsors, as is the Sheraton and BGE.
The fair is a first for the chamber.
"I think one of the driving forces is that there's suddenly so much money to spend on various projects and specifically in North County," said Mr. Falk, who is on the chamber's board.
As examples, he points to expansion projects at BWI and hopes for a Glen Burnie Town Center urban renewal project.
Nicholas J. Schaus, deputy administrator at BWI who is on the chamber's board of directors, said the airport will have a booth at the fair to help businesses learn how they can get work at BWI.
"We just think it's a great opportunity for us to get out there and meet the local businesses and all business from Maryland in general," Mr. Schaus said.
Pauline A. Barbour, in business 14 months as the owner of Crown Trophy at 336 Hospital Drive, considers the fair way to help the chamber and herself.
"I perceive everybody as a customer," said Ms. Barbour, whose business makes name tags, employee badges, trophies, plaques and pins.
The buyers fair is about "finding the gatekeeper, finding the person you need to talk to. It's not going to work out all the time and you don't expect it to. But it can help get you in contact," she said.
The fair costs $20 for chamber members and $25 for nonmembers. Information: (410) 766-8282.