| June 6, 2014 -
Just about one year ago, Haseeb Qureshi caught a brief item on a television news show about a meet-and-greet Business Breakfast that the City of Knoxville hosts annually to help owners of small businesses get started in bidding for City contracts.
So Qureshi came to the breakfast and found out the City was looking for help in redesigning its website. His company was one of 21 firms that bid on the work and was awarded a $21,000 contract.
"It's a big deal," says Qureshi, who's the owner and founder of Avenue Factory, an Old City-based company that creates custom code for dynamic websites. "With every fiber of my body, I wanted to do this project.
"The visibility is amazing. I wanted to create something that will be viewed by and used by millions of people, and I'm proud to be able to help this incredible city, my city, to promote itself to the entire country.
"It was a great opportunity, and it all started with the Business Breakfast last year."
This year's free Business Breakfast will be offered from 7:30-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 12, at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave.
City of Knoxville department directors, Purchasing Department managers and other top staffers will be talking with prospective business partners. Contracts worth millions of dollars will be up for bid with the City of Knoxville during the next 12 to 18 months, and local businesses are invited to learn more about the upcoming projects and how to do business with the City during the annual Business Breakfast.
Free parking will be available in Parking Garage C on Historic Preservation Drive (one block south of Howard Baker Jr. Avenue, across from the Knoxville Marriott).
"The aim is to help match local businesses with the right project for their products and services," says Boyce H. Evans, Director of Purchasing. "Many start-up businesses assume they're too small to get a City contract, but there's a wide range of City purchases, and sometimes, owners are surprised by what's available to them. Our preference always is to support Knoxville area businesses whenever possible."
Among the future products and services the City will need are appliances, beverages, fuel, janitorial services, landscaping supplies, office furniture, trucks and more.
Representatives from several City departments will briefly discuss specific projects at the breakfast. They will present general information about the projects, the anticipated date the work will be going out for bid, and bidder qualifications, among other things. Participants will also learn about the requirements for doing business and how best to compete for business with the City of Knoxville.
Register online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014COKBreakfast. Questions? Contact Sherry Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 865-215-2293.
Qureshi, meanwhile, is a believer in the value of networking. A licensed attorney, he came to Knoxville to attend the University of Tennessee College of Law, and he took a liking to the city and launched his business here two years ago.
Avenue Factory is working with Toronto-based CivicLive to upgrade the City of Knoxville's website for the first time in a decade to make it easier to navigate and to give residents and visitors more choices for interaction and getting information. The website currently gets 58 million hits a year.
"Businesses are so organic, and success comes from having a great product as well as nurturing relationships and understanding the local market's needs," says Qureshi, who's collaborating with Ben Hubbard from The Village Marketing Group.
"Talking with people allows you to redefine what your business does, what it offers. To every mom-and-pop business interested in working with the City of Knoxville, I'd say: It's invaluable to get to know the people who manage the place where we work and live."