SCMSDC adapts, innovates amid pandemic

By Brenda Beveridge

In late February 2020, many countries around the world learned about the COVID-19 virus. Like many, Virginia Gomez, president and CEO of the Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council, thought the virus would be over within a few weeks; in the worst case, the virus would last a few months. 

By March 2020, it was evident health and safety issues would force SCMSDC to temporarily close its office. The transition to remote work was smooth due to crisis planning already in place. 

“The challenge was to continue our service offerings and customer/client engagement,” Gomez said. “Like tens of thousands of small businesses, we adapted, while continuing to explore creative ways to continue our work and to provide the level of customer service excellence expected of us.”

Minority-owned companies were especially hard hit. Still, she said many businesses became product innovators, created new methods to deliver goods and services and collaborated — even among competitors — amid the chaos. 

“At the Council, while apprehensive about the pandemic, we focused on continuing client and customer engagement. It was evident our business community wanted and needed information on maintaining their businesses,” Gomez said.

She said SCMSDC was among the first in the region to deliver webinars on topics ranging from “Cybersecurity While Working Remote” and “Virtual Leadership Management” to “Employer Work and Safety Requirements” and a voter education forum for Proposition 16, among others. 

Its first-ever virtual Business Beyond Barriers Conference + Expo — along with Supplier of the Year, Leadership Excellence and Corporation of the Year Awards — successfully maintained connections and brought new opportunities for business owners, Gomez said. 

“As corporate members doubled down on their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, there were several established grants to support [minority business enterprises’] certification fees,” she said. “We designed a customized series for corporations and larger MBEs who wanted to support DE&I in their businesses. We surveyed our MBEs and corporate members and moved quickly to acknowledge and address the unexpected, explore new platforms to conduct events and activities and fulfill our responsibility to support MBEs and the corporate members during the most trying time of our lives. 

“We prevailed, as did [National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc.,] our sister councils and innumerous MBEs. The pandemic continues to affect small businesses, but the future is bright,” Gomez continued. “If we learned anything during these past two years of the pandemic, it’s that our support networks matter; change rises from realizations of social injustices. And during times of uncertainty and unexpected challenges, we must adapt, innovate and help one another to not only succeed — but [also] to thrive.”  

To learn more about the Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council, visit 


COVID-19 virus Virginia Gomez Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council SCMSDC minority business enterprises MBEs DE&I National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc virtual Business Beyond Barriers Conference Expo

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