CINCINNATI, Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Securing a $1.6 million contract in 2012 brought Ron Nunez, President and Chief Operating Officer of a group of independent supply companies, back to the Toyota Opportunity Exchange this year for the third time. The two-day event provides minority-owned businesses like his the opportunity to network with Toyota's direct suppliers. By the time it was over, IBC had won the major contract with North American Lighting to produce tail lights for various makes, including Toyota and Lexus. "The goal of the Opportunity Exchange is to make a match. I've been to many gala events and golf tournaments and they never turned into a business opportunity," Nunez said. "At the Opportunity Exchange the companies there are looking at partnering with vendors strategically – where you're completely integrated as part of a company's strategy." For Falcon Manufacturing, a member of IBC and the company that assembles the tail lights, the Opportunity Exchange event "brought us together and gave us an opportunity with North American Lighting, which we hope to grow," said Gary Sherman, President of Falcon, also a minority-owned business, based in Seymour, Ind. The 24 th annual event concluded Tuesday, November 12, at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA) started the event with about 300 attendees and it has grown to become one of the largest minority business events in the country attracting about 1,700 people who attend free of charge. Since 2009, more than $100 million in contracts have been generated by minority business enterprises (MBEs) as a result. John Munson, Jr., Manager, Supplier Diversity for TEMA, said the experience by IBC and Falcon is what the event is all about. "Each year, current and prospective suppliers get to connect face to face at the Opportunity Exchange, leading to meaningful, lasting business relationships. We expect many more success stories this year." The event kicked off Monday, November 11, with seminars and panel discussions focusing on several topics, including how MBEs and Tier I suppliers can turn relationships into opportunities. Toyota MBE suppliers (both direct and indirect) also shared success stories about how innovation leads to lower product costs resulting in more business. Day two of the event began with a breakfast presentation by Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. A tradeshow featuring more than 300 Toyota Tier 1 suppliers followed the breakfast. Over the course of more than two decades, Opportunity Exchange has helped generate new business for MBEs and continues to help direct suppliers diversify their own supply base. These partnerships help add value and innovation to Toyota's products and services. For more information about Toyota's supplier diversity program please visitwww.toyotasupplier.com. Additional information can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ToyotaOE and Twitter, www.twitter.com/ToyotaOE. About ToyotaToyota, the world's top automaker and creator of the Prius, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. Over the past 50 years, we've built more than 25 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ nearly 40,000 people (more than 37,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships sold more than 2.3 million cars and trucks in 2012 – and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today. Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), headquartered in Erlanger, KY., is responsible for Toyota's engineering design, development, R&D and manufacturing activities in North America. TEMA's Toyota Technical Center (TTC) operates engineering, research and development facilities in Ann Arbor, MI, including Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC.) Toyota partners with philanthropic organizations across the country, with a focus on education, safety and the environment. As part of this commitment, we share the company's extensive know-how garnered from building great cars and trucks to help community organizations and other nonprofits expand their ability to do good. (NYSE:TM) For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com. SOURCE Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.