In an effort to give small businesses a chance to bid on city contracts, the city of Aurora, Colorado’s Purchasing Division held its first Construction Business Opportunity Fair on April 28 at the Aurora Municipal Center.

Focusing on the construction business, small construction businesses were able to meet and network with employees of large companies seeking subcontractors. More than 200 people representing 96 local small and large businesses responded. Participants learned about contract jobs that will be available for bidding this year in the city’s Water, Public Works and Parks, Recreation and Open Space departments.

The goal of the event is to assist small businesses in securing construction deals with other businesses or with the city’s departments, said Bob Cook, the city’s purchasing manager. “It increases their business opportunities,” Cook said. “It does that through direct contract awards that the city could make to these companies, and the possibility of these small businesses to be able to be subcontractors for larger companies.”

Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer welcomed the participants and talked briefly about the city’s Small Business Enterprise Program. Aurora’s Small Business Enterprise Program is designed as an outreach to small businesses that helps them do business directly with the city. In addition, the program requires large business contractors working for the city to have a similar good faith outreach effort to small businesses. The SBE program also provides for associated identification, tracking, and reporting of small business activity.

The city is planning to schedule another fair in April 2011, including not only construction but also architectural and engineering services.