September 22, 2014

Donate to Fight Ebola in Liberia
This past Saturday evening,  I was a guest of the law firm Shipman and Goodwin at the 27th Annual Airlift Benefit for AmeriCares, the Connecticut based non-profit dedicated to "Confronting Crisis" around the world.  I was inspired by the evening and took the opportunity to explore making a more significant donation than I could make in addition to my personal donation.  I want to suggest that this year we allocate the proceeds of our Expo auction to AmeriCares to assist them in their efforts to fight Ebola in Liberia.

Liberia has a very special connection to the United States. Liberia was created as a not so well thought out alternative for American slaves to be "repatriated" to Africa in the late 19th Century.  The country has struggled economically and politically for decades, and now its people are struggling with the scourge of the Ebloa epidemic.

AmeriCares is one of the premier U.S. based non-profits bringing medical supplies and medical resources to Liberia to help save lives and stem the tide of this devastating crisis.  I am asking our corporate members and our MBEs to donate items so that we can raise money to assist.  I have spoken with senior leaders at AmeriCares, and they are absolutely overwhelmed by this simple act of generosity from the GNEMSDC.  We will give what we can.  I know we can make a difference.
2014 GNEMSDC Business Opportunity Conference and Expo 
The GNEMSDC Business Opportunity Conference and Expo is coming.  This year the event will take place on Tuesday, September 30 and Wednesday, October 1 at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort.  Please mark your calendar.  It is time for MBEs and corporate members to start preparing for the event.  One of the biggest attractions is the very successful One-on-One sessions.  These allow corporate members to schedule 10 minute appointments with specific MBEs for specific commodity/service opportunities.  This year we will once again employ some great technology that will allow us to efficiently make these matches between corporate members and MBEs.  We encourage all of our corporate members to participate in the Expo and the One-on-One program.  This year we have some very important editions to the program.  Stay tuned.  (Photo is of GNEMSDC electronic billboard on I-95 in Bridgeport, CT.)
Here is the preliminary program:
Monday, September 29
 6:30 PM GNEMSDC Board of Directors and Senior Advisory Dinner
Tuesday, September 30
7:00  AM  - Registration Opens
7:15  AM  - Breakfast
8:45 AM   - Industry Opportunity Sessions - Part 1
10:30 AM - Industry Opportunity Sessions - Part 2
12:00 PM - MBE Sponsors Lunch
2:00 PM   -  MBE "Shark Tank" ($5,000 in total prizes for the top 3 sales performances by an MBE)
4:30 PM   -  Break
5:30 PM   -  Shining Star Reception
9:00 PM   -  Expo Booth Set Up
Wednesday, October 1
7:15 AM   -  Breakfast
8:55 AM   -  Expo Ribbon Cutting
9:00 AM   -  Morning Expo Session
12:30 PM - Expo Closes
12:45 PM - Corporate Sponsors Lunch
2:00 PM   -  One-on-One Meetings between MBEs and Corporate Members
5:00 PM   -  One-on-One Meetings End
Here is the link for the Expo Registration.  From this site you can also sign up to participate in the One-on-One program.  You will need to register for the event before you register for the One-on-Ones.
Hotel Reservations
Single & Double Occupancy Rooms are available for $159/night
For online reservations:
To make a reservation by phone please call 1-866-708 1340 and reference the group code: GNEMS14
Reservations must be made by Tuesday September 9 any reservations made after this date will be based on room availability and regular hotel rates.
One on One Business Match Makers on Wednesday, October 1
 One of the most popular activities at the GNEMSDC Conference is the One-on-One sessions.  These are "demand" driven meetings between corporate and public sector buying organizations and certified MBEs.  We have automated this process with the assistance of Global Nest (dba Boothleads).

We are now using Globalnest's matchmaking software for registration. This software will allow small businesses to sign up for their prime contractor appointments during small business registration. This means that you will have a detailed list of your small business meeting schedule ahead of time. We expect this to make the day more efficient and productive for all.
To assist small businesses in determining the best fits for their prime contractor meetings, please make sure that you have completed your registration with a company description and a succinct, yet comprehensive list of procurement opportunities available. If you need to return to your registration page and review/update these items:
  • Visit
  • Sign up if you have not already signed using the email address: 
  • Password should not contain the first 4 characters of your email address
After logging in, please complete your Contact Profile, Company Profile and Match Making Details completely. Please feel free to review the Match Making videos from the YouTube: Match Making Playlist

So far the following  companies have signed up for One-on-One meetings:  List of Corporations 

We are expecting this list grow dramatically over the next few weeks.   
Industry Sessions Tuesday, September 30
 2014 Business Opportunity Conference and Expo  will host various Industry  sessions. These industry sessions will offer tremendous opportunities to learn, meet new people, connect with business colleagues and generate new business. This will be a great way for MBE and Corporate Members to engage each other in future opportunities.

We will have 6 industry workshop rooms. Please see attached list for full
schedule of the sessions. Industry Sessions. The sessions starts at 8:45am on September 30th.
Trade EXPO Important Information and Dates 

Booth Registration due September 17th (Booth Exhibitor Kit Link).

2014 GNEMSDC Business Opportunity Conference and Expo 
Social Media Campaign
 We appreciate your support in helping us to spread the word about the upcoming 2014 GNEMSDC Business Opportunity Conference and Expo September 30-October 1. It's easy to share the news.

This kit includes:
  • Content and instructions for posting
  • Graphics that can be used
  • Links to expo details and registration
Please see attached Kit: Social Media Kit
If you are using an email marketing system, you can include the graphics that are attached to this email. See samples of the graphics on the last page of this kit.  
GNEMSDC "Shark Tank" at the Trade Expo September 30
expoBefore there was a "Shark Tank" program, the GNEMSDC had a "Speed Presentation" program as part of our Trade Expo.  This was one of the most popular and fun parts of the Expo, and for some inexplicable reason, we dropped it.  Well it is back for the 2014 GNEMSDC Trade Expo with a revised focus and structure.   

This year on Tuesday, September 30 after the MBE Sponsors' Luncheon, we will feature a program that gives MBEs a chance to compete for $5,000 in cash that will be awarded to the best presentations on your "Value Proposition".  That's right; $5,000 in cash.  Here are the rules.  You must be a certified MBE or DBE or MBDA client.  You will have 5 minutes to state your value proposition.  A panel of senior procurement officers from the GNEMSDC corporate membership will make the call on who made the best value proposition presentations.  

All interested MBEs, DBEs and MBDA clients, must be registered for the entire Expo and must contact Jennifer Little-Greer by email at to indicating your interest to participate in the program.  Space and time are limited.  So get your emails in early. 

The goal here is not simply to have a good time.  The goal is to have MBEs work on presenting their value proposition concisely and effectively.   There will be no power point presentations or props allowed.  It is just you, your brain and your mouth.  If we are over subscribed we may contact all of the interested parties and hold a preliminary qualifying competition.  Get ready! 
MBE Breakfast Speaker - Kelvin Bernard of Panther Global Group
Kelvin Bernard, President and CEO of Panther Global Group will be the Tuesday morning breakfast speaker at the GNEMSDC Expo on September 30 at the Mohegan Sun.  Mr. Bernard has started and managed several large MBE firms, including NMSDC Corporate Plus firm, Total Technical Services.  Total Technical Services was recognized by the GNEMSDC as the Category 4 Supplier of the Year in 1994 and 2004.

After graduating from Central Connecticut State University , Mr. Bernard began his career as a temporary employee for one of the largest local and national temporary agencies in the Boston area.  An enthusiastic and hard working employee, he was hired directly as a recruiter and later promoted to account executive for the same agency.  He worked in the temporary placement industry for five years, gaining knowledge and experience in the administrative, medical and technical temporary industries in both local and national markets.

Mr. Bernard will share some of the things he has learned that has helped him and his companies reach the pinnacle of minority business development in the country.
MBE Luncheon Speaker - Beverly Kuykendall
We are pleased to announce that Beverly Kuykendall has accepted our invitation to speak on September 30 at the GNEMSDC MBE Sponsors' Luncheon at the Mohegan Sun.  Ms. Kuykendall is the President of Government Business for American Medical Depot out of Miramar, Florida.  American Medical Depot is one of the largest MBE firms serving the health care and hospital industry.  I have had the pleasure of knowing Ms. Kuykendall for many years and have seen her make inspiring, informative and stimulating presentations at events acres the country on the topic of contracting with the public sector and with health care.  Please see her bio.  For MBEs interested in public sector contacting, particularly with the Federal government, you will not hear a more knowledgeable business leader.

American Medical Depot  was founded in 1993 by Sukrit Agrawal.  Headquartered in Miramar, Florida, the company boasts of over 350,000 product, 2,000 suppliers, 180 employees, multiple distribution centers and a comprehensive line of products, equipment and services. 
Peter Van Loon - COO of Access Health CT to Speak at Expo

Peter Van Loon, COO of Access Health CT will be our Wednesday, October 1 Trade Expo breakfast speaker.  Access Health CT is Connecticut's official health insurance marketplace, established to satisfy the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act. Our mission is to increase the number of Connecticut residents who are insured, lower their costs, promote health, and eliminate obstacles to getting health care. Access Health CT will operate at no cost to the state or its taxpayers.
 Peter Van Loon has a diverse background, including Fortune 500 and startup experience in healthcare services and technology companies.  Mr. Van Loon most recently worked at Cigna, and in general has a strong background in operations, IT, and finance.  He also worked at Aetna, as a consultant in the IT sector, and spent a year recently in Afghanistan and in Africa with the Reserves. Mr. Van Loon has performed duties as an overseas combat and logistics leader while a Captain in the United States Navy. Mr. Van Loon has a Bachelor's of Science degree from Trinity College, and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Fred McKinney -  Wednesday Lunch Presenter
Dr. Fred McKinney will be the luncheon Keynote Speaker on Wednesday, October 1 at the GNEMSDC Expo at the Mohegan Sun. The title of Dr. McKinney's remarks is "Lessons Learned from 30 years of MBE and Corporate Minority Supplier Development: Things that You Can Do Now". This is a multi-media presentation you will not want to miss.
I will be honing my remarks at talks I am giving on September 16th at an MBDA Conference in Detroit, MI, then I will be speaking in Boston at the Commonwealth Compact event on September 23rd, and then in Toronto, Ontario on September 24th at the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council Expo and Gala. If you are interested in attending any of these events, give the office a call for more details.
GNEMSDC 2014 Shining Stars

Ms. Davis Kone has 20 years experience as a marketing professional working in a variety of industries at companies such as 1-800-Flowers, World Color, Columbia Business School, and most recently, The MATLET Group, a certified minority business enterprise.

During her time with The MATLET Group, she has been active with the Greater New England MSDC, serving as chair of the MBEIC Education sub-committee and assisting at New MBE orientations.

In June of this year, Jill joined the team at The New York and New Jersey MSDC as Director of Corporate Services. In this role, Ms. Davis Kone will be expanding the Council's outreach to develop relationships with corporations and agencies in New York and New Jersey that are looking to hire and work with certified minority-owned businesses. Jill lives with her husband, Jack in New York City. 

Lawrence is past chairman of the GNEMSDC Board of Directors and manager of supplier diversity for corporate member Pitney Bowes Inc. Lawrence is now the President of the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC) based in Oakland, CA. He is responsible for the growth and sustainability of supplier diversity development across Northern California, Hawaii, and Nevada. Lawrence brings many years of supplier diversity and supplier development experience to his role as president. He has managed and directed supplier diversity programs for a number of well-known Fortune 500 companies across the country. As the president of the WRMSDC Lawrence hopes to continue to build on the success of the organization and highlight the value of minority business development to both corporations and minority business enterprises.
Volunteers Needed for the GNEMSDC Trade Expo
If you are interested in volunteering to work at the GNEMSDC EXPO this year.  Please email Jerilynn Clarke for Additional Information.  
Upcoming Events 
There are several events coming up on our calendar that are designed specifically for MBEs to learn about corporate opportunities.    We know how busy everyone's schedule is, but these are events often hosted by our corporate members with the expressed purpose of finding out more about you and your business with the ultimate aim, to make you a valuable supplier to their companies.  Here are some events you should consider: 
  • September 23, 2014 8:00am Commonwealth Compact Diversity & Inclusion Strategies Conference. Dr. Fred McKinney will be on C-Suite Forum panel starting at 10:30am. GNEMSDC will host a workshop at 1:30pm at the conference. The title of the workshop is called "Supplier Diversity Jeopardy". We will have Partners Healthcare, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and CVS Health on the panel for the workshop. For registration please visit:  Additional Info  ** for those who would like to volunteer at the conference, please reach out to Andie Kim- your admission will be complimentary**
  •  September 26, 2014  6pm-10pm ritmos de salud to benefit Joslin's Latino Diabetes Initiative. For more information contact Caitlin Enright at 617-309-2531 of
  • September 30 October 1, 2014 - GNEMSDC Expo and Conference, Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort, Uncasville, CT
  • October 10, 2014 - GNEMSDC Advanced Leadership Program, Bridgeport, CT (First Weekly Session)
  • October 10, 2014 9:00am - 3:00pm United Way of Western Connecticut BoardServe Western CT Training at the Nestle Waters, 900 Long Ridge Road, Stamford CT.  For more information click here 
  • October 22, 2014 - Boston Business Journal Leaders in Diversity event. 8-11am. Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, 606 Congress Street Boston MA 02210. For registration information: 
  •  October 28, 2014 6:00pm - 8:00pm "Celebrating Diversity in the Greater Bridgeport Business Community" to be held at People's United Bank Lobby, 850 Main St. Bridgeport click here to rsvp.
  • November 20, 2014 - GNEMSDC/MBDA/CWE Best Practices Forum, Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Tuck Opportunity for MBEs in Healthcare
Building a High-Performing Minority Business
November 16-21, 2014
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Hanover, New Hampshire

Invest in your future success. Step back; look at your business analytically--Where are you now? Where do you want to go? How do you plan to get there? This five-day intensive learning experience, designed for diverse business owners and key executives, puts your business front-and-center as your case study for the week, analyzing what you are doing well and what areas need improvement related to finance, operations, marketing, strategy, and leadership.  Coupling the outstanding core curriculum will be a particular focus on the healthcare sector with speakers from the Healthcare Supplier Diversity Alliance (HSDA).

Click here for more information, and to apply or sponsor an MBE. The Tuck Minority Programs team also welcomes your phone call.

Paula Graves, Senior Program Development Manager (603-646-3740)
Michelle Loveys Dozier, Diversity Programs Outreach Manager (603-646-9287) 
Clark and Skanska Construction Companies to Offer Construction Classes in Boston with the Support of the GNEMSDC and Others
The Joint Venture of Clark Skanska invites you to participate in their Strategic Partnership Program, an intensive, five-month program for executives of Small, Minority-Owned, Women-Owned and other Disadvantaged Businesses (SBE, MBE, VBE).

 Developed almost ten years ago in conjunction with a leading professor from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and with more than 500 graduates to date, this program is designed to provide specific management and technical expertise to grow their businesses by successfully pursuing and managing increasingly larger, more complex projects.

The program is free to qualified participants, but classes are limited to 35 participants. Click here for more information about the program and to complete an application.

The class meets one evening each week for three hours over the course of a five month term with additional special sessions.  Graduates receive a certificate of completion, and are pre-qualified for project opportunities with Clark Skanska and other large general contractors.

Who Should Attend
Managers from MBEs, WBEs, SBE, DBEs are encouraged to apply.  Interested applicants should fill out and return the attached application before September 30.

About the Training
The Strategic Partnership Program covers the full array of strategies, management practices, processes and tools that small, minority, women-owned and DBEs need in order to succeed in today's construction industry.  Faculty includes experienced industry practitioners from Clark Skanska and recognized industry experts in risk management, bonding and insurance.  

The intensive five-month curriculum will cover:
  • Program Orientation by Professor Len Greenhalgh of Tuck School of Business
  • Financial Statements and Accounting
  • Insurance and Bonding
  • Blueprint Reading
  • Contracts, Purchasing and Estimating
  • Project Management Fundamentals
  • Presentation Skills 
  • Capstone Project Preparation and Presentations
Clark Construction and Skanska Construction are both corporate members of the GNEMSDC, and we are proud to support this comprehensive and exciting program.
Corporate Member of the Week:  New Corporate Members of the GNEMSDC
We would like to introduce five new corporate members that have joined the GNEMSDC recently.

1Clark Construction
For over a century, Clark Construction Group has been transforming the ideas and visions of their clients into award-winning projects. They build with the intention of exceeding their clients' expectations for safety, quality, functionality, and aesthetics, and deliver finished products that stand the test of time.

2. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation
If you are a small business, woman or minority-owned business, or sponsoring community development effort in Massachusetts and ABLE to demonstrate potential, but have been UNABLE to obtain necessary financing through traditional sources: Massachusetts Growth Capital Corp. may be the answer you have been searching for...

3. The Savings Bank 
The Savings Bank is a state-chartered mutual bank that is proud to be different. They serve their  customers, not shareholders.  They have been providing local communities with friendly personal service and great banking value since 1869. And they plan to be here for a long time to come.

For contact information of these companies, please email Zuzana Dworkin- 
MBE of the Week:  Integrated Wellness Group

Dr. Maysa Duarte Akbar is the Founder and Executive Director of Integrated Wellness Group (IWG), a diverse, multidisciplinary mental health practice established in New Haven, Connecticut in 2008. IWG has grown from a small therapy practice into a fully functioning outpatient mental/behavioral health office serving approximately 850 patients per year. The staff has grown from 3 to 20, and revenue has recently exceeded one-million dollars. IWG is constantly expanding its services, which now includes a new initiative, following the patient centered medical home model, embedding clinicians into several pediatric settings. The Early Childhood team now provides behavioral health consultation to Early Head Start and Head Start programs across CT. IWG has won several business awards, including Small Business of the Year, awarded by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, and has been vetted by the GNEMSDC.

Dr. Akbar's individual experiences and cultural diversity are the driving forces behind her clinical expertise. Her cultural background is that of a Latina whose racial identification is African-American. As a member of a traditionally marginalized group, she is invested in examining the cultural factors that may play a role in the characterization and treatment of children and adolescents. Dr. Akbar continually encourages her employees to create personal and professional goals and strives to cultivate a trusting work environment that encourages free expression of ideas.

  • Psychotherapy
    • Individual therapy
    • Group therapy
    • Family therapy
    • Art therapy
    • Family-centered medical homes 
  • Testing and Evaluation
    • Comprehensive psychological evaluations
    • Psycho-educational evaluations
    • Mental status screening for Bariatric and Pain procedures
    • Disability determination evaluations
    • Post-Secondary Screening©
    • Autism evaluations
    • Early childhood developmental evaluations
    • Neuropsychological evaluations, including ADHD
  • Early Childhood Programming
    • Behavioral Health Consultation
    • Parenting Groups
    • Play therapy 
  • Organizational Development
    • Leadership Coaching
    • Organizational Business Analysis
    • Program Development
    • Community Needs Assessment
    • Diversity and Cultural Awareness Training
    • Teambuilding 
Congratulations to the Newly Oriented MBEs!  
Pictured above are the new MBEs who attended the September 2014 orientation that was held in Bridgeport CT.  Special thanks to Brian Ewing and Megan Murphy from UIL Holding Corporation and Dr. Ramesh Wadhwani of SAI Systems International, Inc. for presenting at the MBE Orientation.  
Springfield/Penn National Gaming Vendor Information Showcase
The introduction of the gaming industry in Massachusetts means more business for small businesses across the Commonwealth.  In western Massachusetts, MGM Springfield will spend $50M annually with local and regional suppliers to operate and maintain the $800 million resort casino in downtown Springfield.  Penn National Gaming will spend over $10M annually at Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville.  Both companies plan to purchase a range of products and services, including food and beverage products; restaurant supplies and equipment; cleaning and maintenance supplies; furniture; fixtures; disposable paper supplies; computers, audio visual and security equipment; professional services, and retail, gifts and specialty items.

Local chambers of commerce see the opportunity for their members to grow their business as a result of this new industry.  That's why MGM Springfield and Penn National Gaming are hosting a Vendor Information Showcase-to introduce local suppliers and vendors to the needs of the gaming industry, provide information on licensing and certification and give small businesses an opportunity to offer their product lines and services to representatives of both companies.

Please join us MGM Springfield and Penn National Gaming Thursday, September 25 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA, for this special event.  Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and will be followed by matchmaking sessions with representatives from MGM Springfield and Penn National Gaming.

MGM-Penn Vendor Showcase Flyer 
Invitations for Bid and Opportunities
  • Town of Ledyard is looking for  contractor to bid on the projects below
  • State of Connecticut Department of Transportation job opportunity:  Transportation Public Transit Administrator 
  • Keolis Commuter Service job opportunity; Paralegal
  • Department of Revenue job opportunity:  Office Support Specialist I 
  • Early Morning Software, Inc job opportunity: Director of Operations
  • Harvard University is committed to increasing their efforts in hiring a more diverse population at Harvard Medical School.  Please visit their career website for employment opportunities.
  • A progressive publicly owned regional railroad has an immediate need for a train dispatcher/clerk.  See detailed ad at  
  • 10 Reasons to shop with Access Health CT for your small business
Massachusetts Diversity Coalition Formed
The GNEMSDC, the Boston MBDA Business Center along with the Center for Women Enterprises, the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce and others have created the Massachusetts Diversity Coalition.  These advocacy and business development organizations first came together to promote the utilization of MBEs, WBEs and VBEs in the gaming industry.  We have since expanded our focus to include all public and private sector developments.
Warren Bacon, the Project Director for the Boston MBDA Center is the Chairman of the Coalition.  For more information, visit our new blog,  

2014 GALP Program Schedule

  We are pleased to announce the second year of the GNEMSDC Advanced Leadership Program (GALP).  The program consists of 5 full-day sessions led by outstanding business professors and writers.  The professors in this program represent the best executive educators in the world, and are from the top business schools in the world.  The GALP faculty includes, Steven Rogers (pictured on the left) of the Harvard Business School, David Hinson, former National Director of the MBDA.  Olav Sorensen of Yale School of Management, and Jeffrey Fox, best-selling author of "How to Become a Rainmaker" and other top selling business books.

Program Schedule: 
  • October 10 - Dr. Fred McKinney, President and CEO of GNEMSDC
  • October 17 - Jeffrey Fox, President Jeffery Fox
  • October 24 - Steven Rogers, Harvard School of Business
  • October 31 - David Hinson, Former National Director for the Minority Business Development Agency
  • November 7 - Dr. Olav Sorenson, Yale School of Management
 Participants will receive a certificate signed by all professors in the program.  This will be a val
This year we are proud to have the generous support of the Fairfield County Community Foundation.  Call the office if you are interested in being participant in this MBE educational program. 
GNEMSDC Community Business School is Back
The Community Business School (CBS) will start Saturday morning October 11, 2014 but 9:00 AM at the 333 State Street in Bridgeport.  Last year was the inaugural year for the CBS. This year, we are looking forward to another excellent program that is providing targeted entrepreneurial education to local small businesses and local entrepreneurs.  I want to thank Valerie Cooper of Picture That, LLC and Ted Hsu of Horizon Services for taking a leadership role and organizing the curriculum and the speakers.  Last year, Valerie and Ted were presenters, this year they are the "deans' of the CBS. 

If you know any early stage entrepreneurs who want to attend this 12 week course in Bridgeport, please have them call Jennifer Little-Greer at 203-288-9744.  And if any MBE or corporate member would like to come and share their entrepreneurial experiences with the CBS students, you are welcome to join us. I guarantee you - you will be energized by the experience.
 And Finally...
I was in Detroit this past week for a national U.S. Department of Commerce, MBDA training conference.  Detroit has been in the news lately because of its bankruptcy; the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  The city has lost population, tax base, jobs, and status over a period beginning in the mid 1960s. This long decline has left the city a shell of its former self, once one of the premier industrial cities in the world, made famous by automobiles and in the 1960s - the Motown Sound.  

I was well aware of this history before arriving on Monday, but determined to see for myself, I reserved judgement.  Like many things, I found that the reality of Detroit is not nearly as bad as people might think. I saw a clean downtown, with what appeared to be a functioning public and private sector.  But I was spending my first two days in town within a few square blocks of GM's headquarters at the Renaissance Center, clearly not a representative sample of the place, any more than Copley Place is a representative sample of Boston.  And when I was not at the Renaissance Center, we were at the beautiful headquarters of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.  (Thank you Louis Green for your hospitality.)

On Wednesday evening I was invited to the "Detroit Homecoming" by a local attorney, Alex Parrish.  Alex is a friend of friend and he graciously asked me to join him for this festive evening in downtown Detroit in the Whitney Building.  The Whitney Building, like much of Detroit, had seen better days, and like much of Detroit, was coming back.  The beautiful turn of the century building was being brought back to its former glory as a boutique hotel and office building.  The building, as architects like to say, 'has great bones'.  

In any case, the Governor was there, the elected state and local officials were there, the non-profit leadership was there, the educational leadership was there, the philanthropists were there, Warren Buffet was coming the next day, Bloomberg CEO, Dan Doctoroff gave the keynote speech.  It was an impressive evening designed to excite "ex-pat" Detroit residents to come back and participate in the rebuilding of this once thriving city.

I had the opportunity to meet with the Chairman of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) while at the dinner. He and my host, who is also on the DIA board, encouraged me to take some time and visit the DIA and other cultural institutions while in town.  The next day, I skipped out on the MBDA meetings, took a cab over to the DIA where I saw a world class museum.  As is the case with any top museum, you have to have a strategy for your visit. Knowing I had limited time, I choose to see the Diego Rivera mural.  If you have never seen this work, this alone is worth the trip to Detroit. It is massive, beautiful and full of the history of the City.  The work was completed in 1933 at the height of the automobile industry and features the Ford Plant nearby while making striking commentary, through art of what life was like then for workers at this massive plant.  It is quite remarkable that a Mexican Marxist would be given a $30,000 commission by Edsel Ford in 1933 to paint a mural at the center piece of the DIA.  (Rivera's "Man at the Crossroads" mural at Rockefeller Center was deemed too radical and was destroyed.) 

Detroit almost lost this cultural gem in the bankruptcy, but because of civic leaders who rallied around the DIA,  all of its art - worth billions - the museum was saved.  If Detroit can rally around its art and cultural institutions,  it will rally around this city and it will come back.  And part of this renewal will and must include minority business development. In a town with an overwhelming minority population, it will be local businesses, meeting local needs that will provide the employment, and more importantly the hope that will bring Detroit back.  

The lesson of Detroit is a lesson for every depressed community in this country. With leadership from the corporate, philanthropic, educational, small business, government and non-profit communities there is no hurdle that cannot be crossed.  Are we not telling a similar story here in Greater New England and elsewhere around the country where minority business development is not simply about minorities.  Each of you, whether you be corporate buyers or MBEs are contributing to an American renaissance.  

In your service,

Dr. Fred