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Small-business opportunities exist in the Fay-West

| Monday, April 21, 2014, 1:39 p.m.
Karl Polacek | Daily Courier
Drew Cowley, Chevron's supply chain procurement operations manager, speaks to the group at the Lunch and Learn session in Connellsville on April 15, 2014
Karl Polacek | Daily Courier
Kevin White, deputy district director of the Small Business Administration, speaks to the group at the Lunch and Learn session in Connellsville on April 15, 2014

There is plenty of money to be made for small businesses with services to offer large companies and government agencies in the Connellsville area.

But those small businesses must make contact and understand what the larger companies are after.

On Tuesday, those interested in becoming suppliers to larger companies got a sample of what they have to do during a Lunch and Learn, sponsored by the Fayette County Cultural Trust in partnership with Seton Hill E-Magnify. Tuesday's session was also sponsored by Bridgeway Capital Advisers Inc. The firm recently opened an office in Uniontown.

Drew Cowley, Chevron's supply chain procurement operations manager in Southwestern Pennsylvania, a native of New Zealand, said he is an example of the international workforce of nearly 70,000 employed by Chevron in many countries.

According to Cowley, Chevron is preparing to expand the company's workforce by adding another 1,200 to 1,800 at a new facility to be built on 65 acres in Moon.

He told Tuesday's audience the best price is not the first prerequisite for Chevron. Officials first look at the safety record of companies. Next on the list is reliability and high quality. Third on the list is developing innovative business solutions. Cost of the product or service supplied is considered next followed by financial viability and providing a competitive process.

The promise of financial reward is great, said Cowley. Chevron alone will spend about $650 million this year in the region.

“We now have 817 employees in the region,” said Cowley. “In 2011, we had just 127.”

Those businesses who wish to provide supplies or services to Chevron can begin the process by going to the Chevron website at

Once a business is on Chevron's supplier list, it can expect to stay on that list for three years. At that time, if there are no problems, it may be asked to continue as a provider.

Kevin White, deputy district director for the Small Business Administration, said while money being spent by the federal government is down, there is still plenty for a small business.

According to White, $271 million was spent in Congressman Bill Shuster's district. He added $83 million of that amount went to small businesses.

He included the Department of Veterans Affairs, The Army Corps of Engineers and the National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park as important potential federal customers in the region.

White said small business must be prepared to attend networking events to make contacts with potential customers.

“Each (customer) is different,” he said. “What works for one may not work for others.”

White emphasized that suppliers must be able to service their customers “24, 7, 365.”

Michael Edwards, executive director of the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority as well as president of the Fayette County Cultural Trust, said many companies host events to attract suppliers. Money spent in Fayette County hotels comes back to county non-profit agencies because of the 3-percent hotel tax. That money gets spent, in turn, on more processes to expand business in the county.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3538.

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