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

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

Q: How many jobs do these firms and the rest of the 300 minority business members create annually, according to the U of M study?

A: About 1,776 jobs a year. These companies not only provided jobs for the community, they also provided for their own families. They pay taxes and send their children to college. In the end, that is our mission. It’s to provide the American dream to minority business enterprises who may not have had the opportunity. That’s exciting.

Q: Does the job creation that flows from smaller MMSDC members impact Minnesota’s high unemployment rate for African-American job seekers? As you know, Minnesota’s rate is among the highest in the nation.

A: Yes. We impact black employment by promoting black businesses and all the other [ethnic] businesses. Statistics have shown that minority business enterprises hire a higher percentage of employees of color than the general business population. That is what we see here.

Q: Your large corporate MMSDC members include behemoths such as Xcel Energy, Best Buy, Target, Cargill, General Mills, Ameriprise, the Twins, 3M and Medtronic. What do they get by partnering with minority suppliers?

A: These corporations are able to work with minority businesses that are creative and nimble and talented. They sometimes are immigrants from around the world that speak different languages. That can bring different solutions to a corporation’s problems. And it can provide access to new markets and talent not currently available in some corporate communities. We serve African-American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian business owners.

Q: What do the smaller minority-owned businesses gain by working with your larger MMSDC corporate members?

A: They are able to receive large contracts and to sell their goods and services to global organizations. They can participate in mentor/protégé programs. And they gain access to decisionmakers that they would typically not get. Our members are the vice presidents and the leaders of procurement in our corporations.

Q: In May, Cargill CEO Greg Page more than doubled Cargill’s commitment to MMSDC suppliers by pledging to buy $1 billion worth of goods from minority and women-owned ­businesses by 2018. It now buys $460 million worth of goods. What did that pledge mean?

A: It was just tremendous. It was significant to both our MBEs and our corporate members because Greg Page challenged other corporations to also increase their commitment to minority businesses. That was just outstanding. We had not had someone from this region commit to the $1 billion before. It was groundbreaking.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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  • 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.

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