Ten successful local minority business owners flew last week to Nashville, Tennessee, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to explore new business opportunities.
The event served as the inaugural trip of the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council’s first “Get on the Plane Business Tour,” a program designed to help make minority businesses more profitable through introductions to corporate decision-makers and minority-owned, operated and controlled businesses (MBEs) in other parts of the country.
“Relationships and access to decision-makers are key to business success,” said Sharon Pinder, the council’s president and CEO, who created the concept and led the trip. “The more these businesses grow, the greater their economic contribution to our region in terms of both revenue and job creation.”
Tony Hill, managing partner of Edwards & Hill Office Furniture, traveled to Nashville with the group and said the tour was an amazing idea.
“It takes an incredible amount of time, money and resources to pursue business in another state,” Hill said. “In Nashville, [the council] had already identified opportunities that matched our core competencies. Amazing efficiency that simply can’t be accomplished by any company on their own.”
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, the number of minority businesses increased between the years 2007 and 2015 by about 38 percent nationally, while the number of non-minority businesses decreased almost 5 percent. However, minority-owned businesses’ average gross receipts list about 65 percent less than non-minority businesses.
Last year, 61 percent of the council’s almost 400 MBEs had revenue of more than $1 million (up 5 percent from 2015). Additionally, 12 percent have more than 100 employees, and 39 percent have between 11-100 employees. These suppliers are major drivers of economic development.
Meeting the group in Nashville were MBEs from the TriState Minority Supplier Development Council. The organization’s president and CEO, Cheri Henderson, ensured that the participating MBEs’ core capabilities complemented those of the Capital Region group.
“This collaborative effort increased networking and procurement opportunities,” Henderson said. “It was an ideal chance to meet, greet, and explore mutual procurement and networking opportunities for increased business development.”