Q: How would you describe 2021 versus 2020 for your organization and its MBEs?
A: DFW MSDC DFW MSDC learned to navigate the virtual world in 2020. We continue to seek opportunities to bring value to our stakeholders. We provided webinar sessions that attracted over 4,000 attendees in the current web-fatigued environment. We addressed business issues that were significant and valued by minority-owned businesses as well as Buying Entity stakeholders.
We continually looked for opportunities to help our Buying Entities and MBEs connect even in the new now.
Q: What were the Council’s major accomplishments in 2021?
• DFW MSDC commissioned supplier.io to provide an Economic Impact study that is included as part of the 2020 annual report.
• We hosted the DFW MSDC Hard Hat Construction Expo LIVE to over 500 eager and anxious participants.
• ACCESS 2021 Business Expo introduced industry-focused seminars with senior-level speakers discussing opportunities in marketing/advertising, management consulting, public sector bonding projects and more. In addition, the programming included two [chief procurement officer] plenary sessions. The virtual expo provided an expanded look at business opportunities outside the usual supply chain focus.
• The Council continued to conduct virtual sessions with topics including disruption in the supply chain, cyber security, industry 4.0, social media, and “How to do Business” sessions with our stakeholders.
• 25 hardware/software relief awards of $4,000 each to DFW MSDC certified minority-owned businesses.
Q: What were the biggest challenges faced by your MBEs this year, and how did the Council help them meet these?
A: Most MBEs will tell you “staying afloat” was — and is — the biggest challenge facing them. Those that had not yet had the chance to build relationships in person found the environment difficult to grow their business. The Council was successful in winning grants designed to help MBEs navigate the NEW NORMAL, including work-from-home and back-into-the-office support sessions, financing opportunities and grants, hardware and software grant relief, and navigating those organizations that had opportunities.
Q: What do you see as the biggest opportunities for MBEs in 2021?
A: Business is operating in an unfamiliar environment. This provides challenges but also opportunities as well. Health care, supply chain logistics, manufacturing, technology, SMART technology, construction, eCommerce, etc., are all areas where businesses can have an impact as we all look for new ways to navigate. Those that can adjust, innovate, swivel to newer areas of emphasis with products and solutions will have an advantage going forward.
Q: What are the Council’s major goals for 2022?
A: Our board of directors are planning a January retreat to help establish the future goals and objectives of the Council. In 2022, we will continue to advocate for increased utilization (not just opportunities) of minority-owned businesses and champion utilization that is a win-win for both MBEs and Buying Entity partners, in terms of sustainability and profit.
Additionally, we will emphasize how to return to in-person activities safely and where warranted. The Council is most effective at its mission of facilitating business connections between our Buying Entity partners and certified minority-owned business centerprises when we can use the best of in-person and virtual platforms to make connections.
Q: What is your outlook for MBEs for 2022?
A: Those MBEs that have swiveled and survived thus far in the current environment have learned how to survive. Their next challenge is continued growth and sustainability.
We hope that becomes easier in 2022, but the influences of discord, misinformation and divide will continue to make minority business utilization a challenge. Those that can enter new areas, receive funding for new directions and/or remain thought leaders in their industry will see the most growth and success.
Q: What’s your vision for the future of minority business development and supplier diversity?
A: We would hope that eventually the need to distinguish between a diverse/minority supplier and a mainstream supplier would become less visible. However, the history, thus far, suggests that there will still need to be emphasis on developing parity in the supply chain for years to come unless we take a more targeted approach.
When MBEs are provided the opportunity to perform on large or small contracts, they surpass mainstream expectations and results. We will continue to voice that message and encourage increasingly mainstream businesses to understand the value and impact of minority business inclusion on our communities and our economy.
To learn more about DFW MSDC, visit dfwmsdc.com.