Minority supplier council builds bridges to small, minority-owned firms

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2013 - 4:02 PM

New U study shows that minority-owned Minnesota businesses contribute more than $2 billion to the state economy.

Duane Ramseur is president of the Midwest Minority Supplier Development Council, which partners minority business owners with large Fortune 500 firms looking to expand their supplier base.

Photo: Richard Sennott • richard.sennott@startribune.com,

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Since becoming president of the Midwest Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) two years ago, Duane Ramseur has secured three wins:

• Glen Taylor’s printing company finally joined MMSDC last year.

• Cargill in May promised to buy $1 billion in supplies from minority firms.

• The University of Minnesota issued a study this summer showing that minority-owned businesses contribute more than $2.14 billion in contracts, wages and spending to Minnesota’s economy each year.

Membership in the 38-year-old nonprofit development corporation includes 300 certified minority businesses and 113 large corporations.

Its goal is to foster long-lasting supply relationships that bring revenue, jobs, diversity and business development opportunities to local communities, said Ramseur, who last week sat down to talk to the Star Tribune about his group’s successes.

Q: Why did you commission the U of M to study the MMSDC?

A: The vision of this economic impact study was really Darren Harmon’s, who is the director of supplier diversity at General Mills [and a MMSDC board member]. We felt that we needed a study to show our impact on the economy. It was important that it was based on fact and not emotion [and that] it be done independently — by someone who had no vested interest.

Q: Twenty years ago the MMSDC had just 130 minority business members, 90 corporate members and about $51 million in partnership contracts to talk about. So did the results of the new U of M study surprise you?

A: Yes. I was pleasantly surprised. I learned that our minority business enterprises had a $2.1 billion impact on the state of Minnesota’s economy. That [includes] direct contracts. And it’s the indirect goods, services and inventories minority businesses [and their employees] purchase. [Minority owned businesses] contributed $264 million in federal, state and local taxes. This study shows that minority businesses connect to Minnesota’s economy in a positive way.

Q: The MMSDC entity that the U of M studied is actually one of 36 councils nationwide. Can you give an example of some minority suppliers in Minnesota?

A: We have Tempo Creative Consultants, which is an advertising firm. We have Thor Construction and Gil Baldwin’s [Columbia Precision Machine Shop]; Kelly Computer Supply and Catalina Specialty Foods, which makes tortillas for McDonald’s.

We also have IT firm Taj Technologies. Those are just a few. But they are all anchors of the community and thriving.

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