Capital Region MSDC carries out 50-year mission

By Monica Stavish Skaggs 


It is interesting to reflect on five decades of accomplishments. But for Sharon Pinder, president and CEO of Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council, it’s much more; it is crucial to boldly forge ahead.


Established in 1972, the Council marks 50 years of service this year. It is one of 23 regional affiliates of the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. With headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, CRMSDC serves Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. 


“Our tagline this year is “Fifty Forward: Our Mission Endures,” Pinder said. “Over the last 50 years, our mission has been battle-tested and still stands strong.”


That mission is to help corporate members improve the diversification and innovation of their supply chains by connecting them to competitively viable certified minority business enterprises, or MBEs. Corporate members include Hilton, McCormick, Caesars Entertainment, Leidos, Wells Fargo, Exelon, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Postal Service.


Different conversation

Pinder doesn’t pull any punches regarding today’s socioeconomic landscape. She said the minority business community continues to face many challenges today, as it did five decades ago. 


“The good news is that we are 50 years old. The bad news is that in the last 50 years, we still have not reached parity.


“Both the uniqueness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest makes you feel like we are coming full circle,” she continued. “When the Council was created 50 years ago, it was on the heels of civil unrest in 1968. Now, 50 years later, you see the civil unrest again.”


Historically, CRMSDC and the country’s MBE programs were built on the backs of African American businesses. Since then, the spectrum of minority businesses has expanded.


“We are not our grandparents’ entrepreneurs,” said Pinder, who has been with the Council since 2015. It will not be business as usual. There are 9 million minority-owned businesses in this country. 


“Now, and in the future, the conversation has to be different. The browning of America and other demographic factors will ensure continued growth. We have to ensure the survivability of these businesses, or it will adversely impact our economy.”


History in the making

There have been numerous historic minority business advancements since the Council’s formation. In the late 1970s and 1980s, U.S. Congressman Parren J. Mitchell from Maryland introduced a series of historic legislative initiatives, including Public Law 95-507, which set the foundation for all minority business enterprise programs. 


In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12432, which required all federal agencies to develop specific goal-oriented plans for expanding procurement opportunities to minority businesses.


Today, the Council remains committed to supporting legislation that improves the minority business landscape. It includes landmark victories such as the codification of the Minority Business Development Agency and supporting proposed legislation that will improve the 8(a) program.

The past five years have been active for the organization as well. During Pinder’s tenure, the Council competed for and won more than $7.4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency to operate their business centers. For five years, the Council operated the Federal Procurement Center and the Washington, D.C. MBDA Business Center. During the second round of five-year funding, the Council recently won the grant to operate the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first MBDA Center.  


During the pandemic, CRMSDC pivoted and launched a series of webinars and a newsletter called “Hotsheet” for MBEs and corporate members to disseminate relevant information and actionable resources needed by its network.


“There are many things that I’m proud of, which includes being included over the last three years in the Washington Business Journal’s Top 30 Largest Business Advocacy Groups in Greater D.C.,” Pinder said. “In 2022, we ranked No. 11.”  


Council programs include several MBE training academies. Most recently, it launched MBE CEO Pandemic Recovery Academy in conjunction with the University of Maryland Global Campus. The Council also sponsors business webinars, and Pinder hosts “Minority Business Connection” podcasts that can be found on Apple, Google and YouTube. 


“The pandemic presented myriad challenges for our minority-owned firms. An economic adage says, ‘When America catches a cold, minority businesses catch pneumonia.’ We now say, ‘When America catches Coronavirus, minority businesses die.’ We’re still under-capitalized.


“Our work must continue,” Pinder said.


The Council will celebrate 50 years of accomplishments in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on Oct. 12, 2022.  


To learn more about the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council, visit crmsdc.org. 


Sharon Pinder, president and CEO of Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council


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Sharon Pinder Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council Silver Spring Maryland National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc District of Columbia Maryland Northern Virginia Fifty Forward Hilton McCormick Caesars Entertainment Hilton Hotel Leidos Wells Fargo Exelon Lockheed Martin U.S. Postal Service CRMSDC Public Law 95-507 President Ronald Reagan MBEs Washington Business Journal’s Top 30 Largest Business Advocacy Groups Pandemic Recovery Academy Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture


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