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Raising the bar for minority-owned businesses

Kelley C. Chunn | 3/9/2011, 6:57 a.m.
State Treasurer Steve Grossman, Suzanne Shank of Siebert, Branford and Shank and Fred McKinney, CEO and president of...
State Treasurer Steve Grossman, Suzanne Shank of Siebert, Branford and Shank and Fred McKinney, CEO and president of Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council are seen here at a minority business summit, which was held recently at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. GNEMSDC

Securing capital and building capacity were the key challenges explored recently at a minority business summit, which drew nearly 200 people to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Presented by the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC), its President and CEO Dr. Fred McKinney said, “Increasing access to capital is one of the most important determinants of growing successful minority businesses and this summit represents the beginning of a concerted effort to build minority capacity throughout the region by sharing information and best practices.”

GNEMSDC is the regional affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council and covers Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. GNEMSDC has 200 corporate members and more than 400 certified MBEs. GNEMSDC’s mission is to significantly increase procurement opportunities for certified minority business enterprises.

To set the tone, David Hinson, national director of the Minority Business Development Agency in Washington D.C., noted an alarming statistic. He cited new government data, which indicates that of all minority owned businesses, African American owned firms were the only sector that faced a drop in annual gross receipts to an average of $78,000.

“Strategic mergers and acquisitions, partnerships and globalization are key drivers for growth of minority firms … ,” Hinson explained. “Organic growth is good but transactions designed to grow a business to scale are more strategic for minority-owned businesses.”

In addition to Hinson, the conference featured a number of leaders in public and private financial markets and minority business development specialists from around the country. Among them were Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman from Massachusetts and Delaware Treasurer Chip Flowers.

They spoke about how their offices help to provide capital to minority-owned enterprises. Also on hand were commercial bankers, investment bankers, academics angel investors, alternative lenders and other financial experts and firms. And some of the largest minority owned enterprises in the nation, including the Specialized Packaging Group, the Matlet Group and Total Technical Services, shared their experiences raising private and public capital to grow their firms.

Keynote speaker Ralph Moore, founder and president of Ralph G. Moore and Associates (RGMA) of Chicago, addressed the vital topic of corporate supplier diversity and its role in capital and capacity building to help grow minority businesses. RGMA is recognized as one of America’s leading change management firms and specializes in the integration of supplier diversity into corporate strategy and the formation of diverse strategic alliances.

Moore’s presentation, “Raising the Bar,” analyzes five progressive levels of supplier diversity evolution, and has been called the “gold standard” for benchmarking corporate initiatives in this area. These levels range from beginning to world class. Moore also noted the irony of corporations that have stellar workforce diversity initiatives and low-level supplier diversity programs.