The Forum focused on strategies to advance MBEs

By NMSDC Communications Department

The National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. (NMSDC) recently held its third annual Minority Business Economic Forum in Seattle, Washington. The event brought together over 400 influential policymakers, academics, business and community leaders. With a theme of Be Next, Now, the Forum focused on building a strategic and comprehensive approach to advancing minority businesses through an interconnected ecosystem focused on existing and emerging industries like artificial intelligence (AI) and clean energy. And this year’s event did not disappoint.

The first day of the Forum began with an inspiring welcome reception at the Museum of Pop Culture, where attendees socialized among several exciting pop culture-themed exhibits, including an introspective on the band Nirvana.

NMSDC CEO and President Ying McGuire shared welcoming remarks before introducing Forum co-chair and Steven Ennis, CEO of ARSC Industrial LLC. He shared a bit about the company’s history including ARSC’s origins as a successful Alaskan Native-owned and operated minority business enterprise (MBE). Next, Ann Marr brought greetings from reception co-sponsor World Wide Technology Inc. and its founder and longtime NMSDC supporter David Steward. Later in the evening, many attendees were also treated to a night of conversation and networking at Firoz Lalji’s beautiful residence on Lake Washington. Lalji is Zones LLC's founder and CEO, and Forum co-chair.

The Forum got into full swing the next morning with inspiring opening remarks from McGuire, Lalji, and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. McGuire also gave a preview of the 2023 Minority Businesses Economic Impact Report sharing that NMSDC-certified MBEs once again saw double-digit increases in growth, and that, if the trends of the past few years continued, NMSDC would achieve its March to $1 trillion by the end of 2030. 

The rest of the morning was filled with insights from experts in today’s emerging industries, including panels discussing what the future of clean energy holds for MBEs and an in-depth look at the future of economic equity from pioneers like long-time minority business leader Jim Lowry and corporate perspectives from Starbucks Corp., Merck & Co. Inc. and others. Additional highlights from the morning’s sessions included an economic forecast from J.P. Morgan Private Bank’s senior markets economist, an in-depth look at how the private sector is leveraging historic investments from the Inflation Reduction Act and Semiconductor (CHIPS) Act, and a fireside chat featuring KKR & Co. Inc. focused on how we can better provide capital access to MBEs.

In the afternoon, Forum participants chose from several networking opportunities including a Starbucks coffee tasting, a mini golf-inspired community service event, a CIO (Chief information officer) roundtable, and a first-of-its-kind capital connections convening aimed at sparking greater access to capital for certified MBEs. In a future article, NMSDC will share more about this engaging session and how it fits into the larger strategy of increasing access to capital for MBEs.

Of course, it would not be the NMSDC Forum, without the Equity Honors. Taking place at the beautiful Fremont Studios, this year’s evening ceremony again honored corporate chief officers recognized by their peers as the true leaders at the vanguard of economic equity and minority business integration. Emceed by the engaging Mona Lee Mocke, not only did the evening honor this year’s winners and nominees but it also provided a night of music and networking to cap off the day’s activities. Check out the official announcement of this year’s winners to learn more.

The third and final day of the Forum began with opening remarks from NMSDC board chair Kala Gibson, executive vice president and chief corporate responsibility officer at Fifth Third Bank. The morning continued to build on the lessons from the day before with more engaging panels on AI, clean energy and access to capital.

In addition, attendees learned about more topics, including how infrastructure dollars have been spent with minority businesses, 5G and its power to end the digital divide, and building the next billion-dollar MBEs – a discussion led by ActOne Group Inc. CEO Janet Bryant Howroyd. These discussions included perspectives from leading private and public sector organizations like T-MobileVizioMicrosoftAsian Americans Advancing JusticeUniversity of Washington, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and several others.

Also, as part of NMSDC’s continued commitment to supporting DEI and business diversity, it held a discussion led by Fortune leadership editor Ruth Umoh with experts that included representatives from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Minority Business Development Agency. Their conversation focused on the current political and legal challenges facing these DEI programs and what they mean for the future of diverse businesses in the United States.

Finally, NMSDC had one last surprise for attendees before they left Seattle — next year’s Forum will not only be co-chaired by Howroyd but will also take place in the sunny city of Los Angeles, California! While this year certainly lived up to the promise of preparing MBEs for the future economy, now, we can’t wait to make an even greater impact at the 2025 Forum!

Passionate about MBE growth, but couldn’t make it to Seattle? Sign up for our Events and Programs communications on the NMSDC website to receive monthly highlights from this year’s event, including session recordings that will begin to be released in July. Also, join us at the 2024 Annual Conference & Exchange from October 20 – 23 in Atlanta, Georgia, to help continue the conversation and define new norms for the minority business community.

To learn more about NMSDC, visit nmsdc.org.

 


Tags:

Minority Business Economic Forum Ying McGuire AI clean energy Bruce Harrell Jim Lowry Starbucks Merck J.P. Morgan Private Banks Inflation Reduction Act Semiconductor Act CHIPS KKR ActOne Group Jane Bryant Howroyd T-Mobile Vizio Microsoft Asian Americans Advancing Justice University of Washington U.S. Department of the Treasury Fortune United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency 2024 Annual Conference & Exchange Forum


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