Last week I gave two talks to very different organizations, yet the topics I covered were largely the same. I spoke to the Institute of Supply Management, Rhode Island chapter at Bryant University on Tuesday nigh and I spoke to the Business Night Out organization in Hartford, CT on Friday night. ISM asked me to come and speak to their members and some Bryant University supply chain management students on supplier diversity. On Friday in Hartford, I addressed the role of history in the development of Black businesses as part of the Business Night Out's Black History Month program. I was able to weave into both speeches the reasons why minority business development is important for large corporate organizations, minority businesses, and the community at large.
One story I told on Tuesday night was the story of how Penn National Gaming and Turner Construction have exceeded some impressive goals in the utilization of M/W/VBEs and diverse workers on the Plainville Casino project. The construction phase of the project is now almost over, and they have exceeded 20 percent M/W/VBE utilization. The message to ISM was that this does not just happen. This required commitment from the senior leadership at Penn National and Turner. It required a well constructed plan for outreach and on-boarding of diverse firms. It required constant on-site monitoring of subs and corrective action when goals were not being met. It required treating the diverse businesses with respect. Penn National and Turner reported to me, as a member of the supplier diversity committee they created for the project, that in only one case out many diverse contracts did cost come in above expected. This is a record often not seen when there is no diversity. And in all cases, Penn National's and Turner's expectations on quality were exceeded. Supplier diversity can and does work.
On Friday night, I was honored that both Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, as well as Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Happier and LT Governor Nancy Wyman were in attendance to celebrate the occasion. (Also I must give a shout out to Ron Williams, Tom Davis, Jennifer Little-Greer and Vincencia Adusei for being our guest). My remarks on Friday focused on the history of Black businesses in Hartford. In researching the subject I found an interesting case of a Hartford Black entrepreneur by the name of Augustus Washington. Mr. Washington owned a daguerrotype shop in Hartford in the mid-19th Century. Daguerrotypography was the first generation of image reproduction. Mr. Washington by all accounts was successfully serving the needs of both Black and White Hartford residents. And not only was Mr. Washington a successful businessman, he was also a community and political leader who advocated tirelessly for allowing Black Hartford citizens the right to vote. You see there is an unbreakable connection between economic opportunity and political opportunity for the benefit of all. Black and minority business development is not only about the success of the entrepreneur. This is about the success of us all, in the fullness of our lives.
We can do this. It takes all of us to contribute a small part. But we can do this.