The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, in conjunction with other public and private organizations, will sponsor the XI Annual Competitive Edge Conference for Minority and Women Business Owners. This two day event will take place on August 9, 2004 from 5:30 - 8:00 pm, and August 10, 2004 from 8:00 am – 6:15 pm at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. This year's theme "IMAGINE...the Economic Reality," will focus on helping firms enhance their business skills and access contracting opportunities. Governor George E. Pataki said, "This conference will help minority and women owned businesses learn more about contracting opportunities in New York. I encourage those firms that are interested in expanding their businesses to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to meet with decision-makers of the public and private sectors and explore ways to help rebuild Lower Manhattan." Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, "The rebuilding of Lower Manhattan presents an opportunity for New York City to show its strengths, and among them is our network of minority and women owned businesses. This Administration through the Department of Small Business Services is committed to ensuring Lower Manhattan's small business community shapes the future of the downtown area and I am confident that the XI Annual Competitive Edge Conference will enhance opportunities and support the growth of Lower Manhattan." The Conference will begin on Monday evening August 9, 2004 with a "Meet the Sponsors" reception from 5:30–8:00 pm. The program will continue at 8:00 am on August 10, 2004 with workshops scheduled throughout the day and will feature the "4th Annual Marketplace" from 2:30-5:00 pm allowing participants an opportunity to meet with major general contractors, key procurement specialists, and government agency certification managers. A networking reception from 5:15–6:15 pm will end the Conference. Lower Manhattan Development Chairman John C. Whitehead said, "The Competitive Edge Conference, now in its 11th year, continues to be a successful medium in assisting the development of minority- and women-owned businesses--and at no cost to participants. I applaud the efforts of the other organizations helping to sponsor this important event, especially the State and City agencies and the many private businesses who have adopted this conference as a way of helping smaller businesses grow through the many available resources this conference offers." Kevin M. Rampe, LMDC President said, "For our rebuilding efforts downtown, the inclusion of minority and women businesses is vital to helping create a long-term pattern of minority and women business participation in large scale construction and development projects. To that end, LMDC fully supports and spearheads efforts to identify and assist minority and women business owners and individual workers in their business and career endeavors." LMDC is also collaborating with all of the agencies involved in the rebuilding process, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York State Department of Transportation, and Silverstein Properties to ensure that minorities and women participate in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. This Conference, the "Opportunity Downtown: Women Working" event held at Pace University March 31, 2004 for minority and women owned businesses and the "Opportunity Downtown" conference for minority- and women-owned businesses held in January are examples of this effort. Additional sponsors of the Competitive Edge Conference include: Dormitory Authority State of New York, Empire State Development Corporation, Hudson River Park Trust, Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NYC Department of Education, NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, NYC Housing Authority, NYC Department of Small Business Services, NYC School Construction Authority, NY Power Authority, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Bovis Lend Lease, Crescent Consulting, Regional Alliance for Small Contractors, Staten Island Economic Development Corp, General Contractors, major contractors and developers, and other private corporations that do business with these organizations. For more Conference information, including registration please visit www.RenewNYC.com.