CRMSDC welcomes NMSDC/MED Week attendees

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 led the

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 contracting.

• 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 progress

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,” Pinder said.


“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


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

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