When the South Central Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council hosted the Ohio Business Opportunity Fair in Columbus, Ohio a few months ago, it attracted nearly 500 corporate executives, minority business owners and community leaders from across the nation. The 2013 OBOF was SCOMSDC’s 21st annual trade fair. The conference serves as a platform for corporations to do business with MBEs certified by the council. The OBOF also features a range of training and development, networking and engagement opportunities.
Grand Marshal sponsors were Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. and Honda of America Mfg. Inc.
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“Many corporations in our region are fully committed to supplier diversity and are at the forefront of growing minority businesses,” said Darryl A. Peal, SCOMSDC president and CEO. Four of SCOMSDC’s board members are members of the Billion Dollar Roundtable. These corporations spend over $1 billion with certified MBEs every year.
“We conduct an annual survey of our corporate members to measure their spend with MBEs. Last year’s Economic Impact Report revealed that corporations in our region are recovering from the economic downturn and are now increasing their spend with MBEs year- over-year,” Peal said. “Additionally, companies such as Toyota never waned in their commitment to supplier diversity. In fact, Toyota doubled down, increasing its minority spend in the midst of the economic downturn.” According to the 2012 SCOMSDC Economic Impact Report, the council’s corporate members spent over $4 billion with MBEs certified by SCOMSDC in the Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati metropolitan areas.
The 2013 Ohio Business Opportunity Fair began with the Business Opportunity Golf Classic, a day of networking and relationship-building at the Safari Golf Club at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The Golf Classic was sponsored by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Greg Bell, chief finance officer. A full day of training and development workshops for MBEs and corporate attendees followed at the Columbus Convention Center. Following the workshop sessions, Huntington National Bank hosted a private reception for MBEs. The reception included networking opportunities with Huntington executives and sourcing opportunities.
The opening reception featured a video produced by the city of Columbus and Mayor Michael B. Coleman welcoming the attendees to Minority Business Week. Coleman also delivered remarks and announced the winners of the Frederick J. Yates Jr. Memorial Scholarship Minority Business Awards. Two SCOMSDC-certified MBEs were presented scholarships to attend the Tuck Executive Education program for minority businesses.
Columbus City Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson delivered remarks and presented the council with a $60,000 check for MBE development to launch the MBE Academy, a one-year training and development program for eligible non-certified MBEs and newly certified MBEs in Central Ohio.
On final day, the Networking Breakfast was filled with hundreds of participants ready for the trade fair to open. After breakfast and the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, MBEs and corporations participated in Ohio’s oldest supplier diversity and Business Opportunity Fair. With more than 500 participants, there were many industries represented. The trade fair featured nearly 150 corporate and MBE booths. There was also a match- maker that provided corporate buyers private meetings with MBEs to discuss business opportunities.