The Ohio Development Services Agency – Entrepreneurship and Small Business Division works in partnership with a broad network of public and private partners across Ohio to provide the information, assistance, and advocacy that facilitates small business growth and development. The Division supports Ohio’s businesses (up to 500 employees) by creating opportunities to expand financial literacy, entrepreneurial skills, access to capital, and the coaching they need to succeed. Through the state’s network of 39 Small Business Development Centers, more than 9,400 clients were served in 2012. The services helped to bring about $115 million in capital infusion and $130 million in sales growth.
The client has been conducting conferences to facilitate linking small business participants, with potential contracting opportunities with government agencies and prime contractors. The conference called Business Matchmaker provides small businesses with a unique opportunity to meet with buyers and sellers of goods and services. Small businesses can present capability statements and learn about the purchasing process of buying organizations. Buyers can represent city, state, county, and federal agencies, as well as prime contractors and other organizations and businesses with combined purchasing budgets representing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Taking this venture online was the next objective for the Agency. Providing small businesses with the ability to market themselves online to potential buyers would be the next step in the advancement of this program.
Halcyon Solutions implemented a custom developed .NET solution called Check Ohio First (COF) to promote and encourage companies operating in Ohio, and those attracted to the state, to maximize the use of Ohio businesses when making purchases, taking the ‘buy-local’ effort to a statewide level.
COF features include:
- An on-line directory of Ohio businesses that enables purchasing and sourcing agents to identify potential vendors, and offers Ohio small businesses the opportunity to be considered for a wider variety of business solutions.
- An on-line event management and registration system that enables COF users to quickly find and register for everything, from simple online “webinars” to large tradeshow events like the Business Matchmaker.
- User-friendly features such as: a search tool for companies and events, simple online event registration and easy to do payments, maps showing event locations, on-line access to company and event documents, and automatic business-to-business matchmaking to quickly identify buyers and sellers with mutual interests.
The new solution provides company search, matchmaking capabilities, and event management tools that enable DOD to reach out to Ohio businesses and actively promote them to potential customers. Hosting COF on Microsoft Azure Cloud services allows initial system rollout for a modest investment and ensures security, reliability, and scalability to support COF’s growing user base. DOD is actively marketing this solution as a “preferred” solution for other initiatives like shale gas and biomass.
- Microsoft Windows Server, Internet Information Server, SQL Server – Host server OS, web server and data management
- Visual Studio 2013 IDE, .Net MVC 4.5 & C# – Custom coded Application controller
- Microsoft Azure Cloud Services – Data center, application servers, physical data storage, operations, and operation management tools
- Elavon VirtualMerchant™ – Credit card payment processing