By Georgeann H. Ikuma
For Sharon R. Pinder,
president and CEO of the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council
(CRMSDC), choosing Baltimore to host National Minority Supplier Development
Council Inc.’s (NMSDC’s) annual conference is not just a top choice for the organization
— it is also timely.
“Baltimore, Maryland, is
known as ‘Charm City,’ and our region is the home of some of the most iconic
figures of the nation’s minority business movement,” she said.
Those notables include:
• Reginald F. Lewis, who,
in 1987, became the first African American to build a billion-dollar company.
• Henry Parks, who in 1969
first African American
firm — Parks Sausages Co. — listed on the New
York Stock Exchange.
• Congressman Parren J.
Mitchell, the father of the historic minority business enterprise (MBE)
legislation that changed government
• Supreme Court Justice
Thurgood Marshall, whom Pinder called “the greatest jurist ever.”
Pinder also serves as the
public policy chair for NMSDC’s regional affiliate presidents, and CRMSDC
operates the Virginia MBDA Business Center.
“The Capital Region MSDC
is honored to be the regional host, especially given the current challenges to
minority business programs nationwide. For us as host Council, the theme ‘Close
the Equity Gap’ resonates, and the timing is just right to connect in this rich
and vibrant region,” she said.
While preparing for the
conference, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that impacts
affirmative action and the future of supplier diversity.
“Given our proximity to
Washington, D.C., we wanted to ensure that addressing this decision was a part
of the programming to be delivered, so we made the decision to conduct our
annual fly-in ‘Day-On-The Hill’ at the end of the conference,” Pinder said.
“This strategy enables us
to educate our congressional members on the economic impact of our certified
MBEs across the country and the negative impact the assault on affirmative
action is having on minority business programs,” she added.
To showcase both the
private and public sectors, Pinder said that this year’s conference is also
incorporating the celebration of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority
Business Development Agency’s (MBDA’s) 40th anniversary of Minority Enterprise
Development (MED) Week, which offers a venue for minority-owned firms to access
information, tools and resources to grow their businesses both domestically and
internationally through networking events, workshops and issue forums.
Proposals, programs and
Since celebrating its 50th
anniversary last year at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American
History and Culture, CRMSDC was awarded an MBDA Capital Readiness Program grant
from more than 1,000 submissions to create an ecosystem of incubators,
accelerators and capital access partners to address capital-access gaps and
readiness training for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
The Council also received
an MBDA grant to support minority-owned firms in sparsely rural populated areas
around the region to provide them with the support and training they need to
launch or expand their businesses.
“We’ve also partnered with
our corporate members to launch two ‘grow-your-own’ programs — Exelon
Foundation STEM Academy and AstraZeneca’s Intentionally Inclusive
Mentor-Protégé programs — which are designed to provide MBEs in the utility and
pharmaceutical manufacturing industries access to their C-suites and resources,
as they seek to grow and develop as business owners,” Pinder said.
“This summer we concluded
a successful six-week program in partnership with the University of Maryland
Global Campus, which offered executive education training for some of our
premier MBE CEOs, as they continue to deal with the impacts of a post-pandemic
economy,” she added.
The Council’s rapid growth
extends to online programs as well, with a webinar series led by its Virginia
MBDA Business Center called “Doing Business with the Federal Government” and
its HOTCHAT podcast Minority Business Connections series led by the Coronavirus
Response Resource Center.
“At the forefront of our
annual programming, we continue to keep our business owners in mind with MBE
Input Committee Breakfast hosted by Monumental Sports and our annual Super
Matchmaker conference to provide MBEs with access to our corporate members who
support supplier diversity and who continually help to advance our mission,”
“I have an incredible team
and board of directors, and I am deeply grateful for all the work that we are
doing collectively — amid economic pressures and a very challenging landscape —
as it relates to the continued attacks on affirmative action,” she added. “Most
importantly, I am proud of the work that we are doing and how we are serving
this region’s minority business community. We are pleased to welcome everyone
to ‘Charm City.’”
To learn more about
CRMSDC, visit crmsdc2.wpengine.com.
Sharon R. Pinder Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council CRMSDC Baltimore National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. Virginia MBDA Business Center U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA Minority Business Development Agency Minority Enterprise Development Week NMSDC Conference and Exchange