The Jekyll Island Convention Center will host the third annual Georgia Procurement Conference, bringing together more than 800 procurement professionals and suppliers from across the state and nation.

The focus will be on small business, especially in rural Georgia, to help create jobs and grow businesses, said Alex Atwood, state Department of Administrative Services commissioner.

“It’s a well thought out event we have for the state. I’m tickled to carry out the governor’s mission,” Atwood said in a phone interview Monday.

Atwood will attend the event and make the opening remarks today.

The conference will also feature a video from Gov. Brian Kemp explaining the importance of the state’s procurement efforts and the value of public-private partnerships. The governor has also proclaimed April 22-26 as Georgia Procurement Conference Week.

“The Georgia Procurement Conference is an opportunity to connect small businesses with professionals who are responsible for ensuring that our state secures the best price and best value for goods and services for our citizens,” Kemp said in a statement. “We also are pleased that businesses from every corner of Georgia will be represented at the conference.”

An estimated 140 booths from different companies, will be set up at the convention center for an Exhibitor Expo today. It’s a 30 percent increase over last year, Atwood said.

The state’s Chief Financial Officer Greg Dozier and Executive Director of the Georgians First Commission Scott Hilton will also participate in the conference. Most of the participants are procurement professionals representing state government agencies, universities, technical colleges and local governments. They will attend workshops and training sessions, earn continuing education credits and have the opportunity to network with colleagues and procurement experts.

“We are pleased to offer an opportunity for procurement professionals to engage with suppliers, with a goal of ensuring that our state invests wisely and efficiently while also growing Georgia’s economy,” Atwood, said, noting that Georgia managed more than $8 billion in contracts and spend last year. “It’s a win for business, particularly small businesses, and a win for local communities throughout Georgia.”

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