The Nashville Minority Business Center hosted its 38th annual Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) January 24 through Friday, January 29. Due to the pandemic, the events scheduled for last year had to be delayed and were held virtually.
The MED Week conference each year aims to recognize the contributions made by minority businesses to the nation’s economy and share best practices with local business owners on growing and scaling their businesses. The theme of this year’s celebration was ‘Contracting for Equity in Tennessee, part II.’
According to Executive Director of the Nashville Minority Business Center Marilyn Robinson: “The focus of this year’s conference was to develop a legislative agenda that eliminates systemic barriers and creates sustainable economic development opportunities for diverse businesses in the state of Tennessee and to prepare companies to effectively bid for public contracts and identify alternative sources of financing through crowdfunding.”
Attendees heard from local public administrators at the city and state levels on economic equity and inclusion on matters including: learning about the big opportunities for historically underutilized businesses with the Metro Nashville Airport Authority led by Chief Procurement Officer Davita and CEO Doug Kreulen; an update on Metro’s Equal Business Opportunity Program presented by Chief Procurement Officer Michelle Hernandez Lane and Business Assistance Office Christopher Wood; and legislative efforts regarding The Small Business Reserve (SBR) Pilot Program that was sponsored by Senator Brenda Gilmore and Minority Leader Tenn. state Rep. Karen Camper.
“I really want to thank Marilyn or being a tireless leader over several years and ensuring that she brings this forum to the Nashville community,” said Nashville’s Michelle Hernandez Lane.
Lane’s procurement office has seen great strides in minority participation, thanks in no small part to Robinson’s efforts
“It is so important because it helps to ensure that contracting for equity and that economic development issues that are important to Black and Brown communities continue to be on the forefront—and that we continue to stay focused on the need to create improvements,” she said.
At its conclusion, attendees were able to celebrate the achievements of local minority-owned enterprises at the Minority Business achievement awards. The speaker for the event was William Michael Cunningham, notable Georgetown professor and author of The Jobs Act.
Earlier during the week, Cunningham spoke on crowd-funding and the full implementation of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.