Nashville Minority Business Center hosts 2017 MED Week kick-off mixer

Marilyn Robinson, Executive Director of the Nashville Minority Business Center, announcing plans to increase minority participation in government contracts at the MED Week Kick-off Mixer.

Marilyn Robinson, Executive Director of the Nashville Minority Business Center, announcing plans to increase minority participation in government contracts at the MED Week Kick-off Mixer.

The Nashville Minority Business Center (NMBC) hosted its 2017 Nashville Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) kick-off mixer at the downtown Google Fiber Space on March 31.

This year will mark the 35th annual National MED Week celebration, and the 32nd time that the NMBC will be hosting it here in Nashville.

Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) is an annual national celebration in recognition of the contributions made by minority businesses to the nation’s economy.

The Nashville Minority Business Center was established in 1984 by Marilyn Robinson. The Nashville MBC coordinates existing resources in the public and private sectors for minority business enterprises, offers a full range of management and technical assistance services, and serves as a conduit for information and assistance to and about minority businesses. The Nashville MBC also increases the formation of new minority-owned businesses, and expands existing minority-owned firms and minimizes business failures among minority entrepreneurs.

This year’s theme is ‘The Road to Public Contracting: Breaking the Barriers. Mastering the Challenges.’ At the event, Robinson announced a new curriculum on securing government contracts, aimed at increasing economic opportunities for small businesses.

“What we decided to do is address the problem of the lack of businesses that receive contracts with the state of Tennessee,” said Robinson.

One of the goals of MED Week this year is to prepare companies to get ready to do business as government contractors.

“For some companies the process of the registration or certification can be cumbersome so we just want to reduce some of that. We want to find a way to simplify the contract procurement process.”

This year, the Minority Business Center will offer courses in certification and registration, understanding contracting, cost proposals, as well as opportunities dedicated to women owned businesses.

Many of the courses will be repeated to give business owners multiple opportunities to take advantage of them.

Robinson also wants to develop a model inclusion plan that replicates a version of the Small Business Association’s program where smaller companies are able to bid on government projects as a prime.

“We feel that as business owners we’re at a disadvantage if you have to compete with large firms, if the contract is bundled you’ll never get a chance to bid on it because you don’t have the capacity to bid on it,” she said.

“We feel that public contraction is a market where we are overlooked. We have companies that are capable, available, and willing and we’ve just got to find a way to get people into the door.”