NMSDC’s Second Annual Minority Business Economic Forum Sparks the Next Wave of Economic Equity


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Earlier this month, some of the country’s top corporate, government, minority businesses, capital providers, and thought leaders came together in Miami for NMSDC’s Second Annual Minority Business Economic Forum. Co-hosted by MasTec Chairman Jose Mas and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, the event focused on the systemic barriers many minority business enterprises (MBEs) face and developing solutions to overcome them to build a more inclusive economy that works for all.

The event kicked off on Monday, May 8 with a welcome reception at the beautiful W South Beach. After the reception attendees attended one of two dinners, the first hosted by Jose Mas at his home and another at the Red Rooster in historic Overtown, a community that has a rich and storied history for Miami’s Black community. These opening events set the tone for what was to be a productive and meaningful event of relationship-building for attendees.

The next morning, the main programming got started in earnest with opening remarks that included the official announcement by NMSDC CEO and President Ying McGuire that the 2022 NMSDC Minority Businesses Economic Impact Report was being released that day. Following the announcement, McGuire held a brief fireside chat with Forum co-chairs, Mas and Mayor Suarez.

Building on their insightful conversation, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio delivered a keynote speech that emphasized the promise of the American dream for minority-owned businesses.

After the senator’s inspirational call to action, an impressive panel of minority business owners who have built multi-billion-dollar MBEs shared their stories with attendees and emphasized how they leverage their success to give back to and build generational wealth for their communities. Speakers on the panel included James H. Lowry Associates CEO and Founder Jim Lowry, Bally Chairman Soo Kim, Zones Chairman and CEO Firoz Lalji, and Forum Co-chair and MasTec CEO Jose Mas.

Following an induction ceremony for the newest Corporate Plus members, Republica Havas CEO and Co-founder Jorge Plasencia moderated a timely panel featuring c-suite leaders from Flagstar Bank and Denny’s who shared solutions for MBEs looking to weather the uncertain business tides presented by COVID-19, inflation, recession fears, and other unprecedented geopolitical issues.

Not to be outdone, the last main stage session of the day featured former NFL players turned successful entrepreneurs, Cris Carter and Adam Walker whose mix of humorous anecdotes and emotionally poignant life stories captured the imaginations and attention of both the MBEs in the audience looking to emulate their success and the corporate leaders looking to build stronger business relationships with those MBEs.

Before breaking for the day, NMSDC had one more surprise for attendees — a special live satellite appearance from the executive director of Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD foundation, Ivy McGregor, who announced a partnership between BeyGOOD and NMSDC focused on recruiting Black entrepreneurs to the Black Parade Route luncheons.

After a brief break, attendees came together at the impressive 1111 Lincoln Road, to recognize this year’s Equity Honors awardees. Emceed by MSNBC’s Katie Phang, the ceremony and dinner were full of entertainment (including a performance from Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer students), great conversation, and the celebration of the top corporate leaders at the vanguard of economic equity and minority business integration.

The final day of the Forum kicked off with programming that focused on three main themes, increasing access to capital, enabling MBEs to leverage recent investments by the federal government, and building generational wealth for communities of color.

After brief opening remarks from McGuire, attendees heard from two amazing panels focused on capital. The first featured leaders from Kapor Capital, Apis Holdings, Avance Investment Management, and Loop Capital sharing their vision for reimagining the capital ecosystem to better support MBEs.

Following their words of wisdom, representatives of Barclays and NMSDC Entrepreneur in Residence Kurt Trevan took the stage to announce the official launch of the Capital Manager’s Program, an effort aimed at assisting capital providers and related service companies to more easily connect with minority business enterprises (MBEs) to provide the funds needed to grow and scale their businesses.

In the wake of this groundbreaking announcement, corporate leaders from NBC Universal, Ariel Investments, Target, Lincoln Financial, and Lenovo engaged in an equally robust discussion about how building generational wealth for communities of color requires going beyond supplier diversity and shared how their companies are leading the way in the movement to a more holistic business diversity.

Up next was an impactful panel led by Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development Don Cravins Jr. featuring former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. The session focused on how recent unprecedented federal investments have created an opportunity for MBEs to help build the industries of tomorrow.

The main stage concluded its panel discussions with a conversation of chief procurement officers from some of the nation’s leading companies in supplier diversity including Ampcus, JP Morgan Chase, Truist, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, and Accenture on the core purpose of the Minority Business Economic Forum, building generational wealth for communities of color through increased opportunities for MBEs.

The Forum ended with one final surprise when McGuire and a representative from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation took the stage to announce a multi-year, $500,000 grant aimed at connecting more MBEs with major employers through NMSDC’s Corporate Plus program.

NMSDC is grateful to all the speakers, sponsors, and attendees who made this year’s Minority Business Economic Forum a success and we can’t wait to see you all again this fall at the NMSDC Annual Conference & Exchange in Baltimore to continue these important conversations!

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