Campus News

UK creates Economic Inclusion Marketplace to support diverse suppliers, local businesses

A sample catalog search.
A sample e-catalog search.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 10, 2024) — As part of the University of Kentucky’s strategic plan to advance the interests of the Commonwealth , UK formed an Economic Inclusion Program. Led by Barry Swanson, UK’s chief procurement officer, and Marilyn Clark, UK’s first economic inclusion manager, the initiative strives to expand UK’s economic development efforts by providing support for diverse suppliers and Kentucky-located businesses.

To help these businesses more easily offer their goods and services to university departments, UK partnered with Lexington-located Equity Solutions Group (ESG) to develop an Economic Inclusion Marketplace. The businesses work with ESG to load the goods they want to offer to the university into an e-catalog that is available on the SRM Ariba Network platform.

“The north star that guides everything we do at the University of Kentucky is to advance Kentucky,” Swanson said. “This new e-catalog will add to the foundation, guided by UK’s strategic plan, of how we support local and diverse-owned businesses.”

The e-catalog will work by serving as an innovative, one-stop tool to connect diverse and Kentucky-located suppliers to the university.

Next steps for the e-catalog include adding more suppliers to the framework and then connecting with them through the e-marketplace, something ESG will help with.

“This tool will not only lead to a higher success of connecting businesses to UK, but it will become a springboard to help them,” Clark said. “ESG will help create catalogs for those smaller businesses that don’t already have them.”

Looking to the future, Clark and Swanson hope the e-catalog can expand to other colleges and universities.

“This e-catalog is only the beginning, not the end of the journey we are on with economic inclusion efforts at the university,” Swanson said.

Anyone with an Ariba account will have access to the e-catalog.

“A ton of hours of hard work went into this Economic Inclusion Marketplace e-catalog,” Clark said. “We are excited to be a part of this next step in advocating for the university’s economic inclusion efforts.”

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Learn more about UK’s economic inclusion efforts by visiting

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.