Members of the Media Salad team scored fresh business leads and market insight from the Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council’s (MPMSDC) Town Hall — and we don’t mind sharing some of this great information with you, too.

Dozens of Colorado business executives and government officials attended the March 23 meeting, hosted in the Denver offices of JE Dunn Construction, a national commercial builder and MPMSDC member committed to training and mentoring minority contractors under the leadership of Jose Amaya, vice president of business development and director of small business programs. Mr. Amaya — widely respected for a 30-year construction career spanning from job-site labor to executive strategy — repeatedly underscored the MPMSDC’s overarching message:

Doing business with companies owned by minorities, women and military veterans is good — make that great — for business. In part, that’s because having a diverse stable of corporate suppliers often helps companies develop and deliver goods and services to previously untapped markets. Having diverse trade partners also helps companies recruit stronger work teams that attract still more business because they genuinely reflect the communities they serve.

The MPMSDC, which serves a region composed of Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, seeks to assist its members in four major ways:

  • with the achievement of certifications that allow member firms to compete for public and private-sector contracts,
  • with resources supporting business development,
  • with events and information that help member firms connect with business opportunities, and
  • through advocacy for the advancement of minority-owned business suppliers.

Colorado minority-owned firms in perspective

Among the things we learned from Anna Ewing, chief operating officer of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and Rosy Aburto-McDonough, director of the Colorado Minority Business Office:

  • In 2012, the latest year for available data, Colorado’s 85,800 minority-owned firms composed 16 percent of all of the state’s firms and generated $13.5 billion in revenue.
  • In 2012, immigrants owned 9.2 percent of Colorado firms.
  • From 2007 to 2012, women-owned businesses in Colorado increased 21.5 percent. In 2012, they accounted for 195,000 firms in the state and generated $26.5 billion in revenue.
  • In 2012, Colorado had 51,700 veteran-owned firms, or 9.7 percent of the state’s total. And of those veteran-owned businesses, 13.1 percent were owned by women. All veteran-owned companies generated $17.3 billion in revenue that year.

Just some of the interesting people we met

Marcus Weathersby, a business consultant for the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center in Denver, operated under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mr. Weathersby provides advisory services to help small business owners obtain the most appropriate resources to help their firms achieve growth and stability.

Loretta Lovell, owner of LFL International in Littleton, Colo. The firm provides program, project and construction management. In 2011, its food distribution services were assumed by Lizzy’s Food, which offers private-label product services for companies wanting to expand their food production lines. Ms. Lovell also serves on the MPMSDC board of directors and as chairwoman of the organization’s Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee, which provides “constructive and solution-oriented input on issues affecting minority-owned businesses.”

Kory Oplinger, director of sales for Meeting Excellence, Inc. The Overland Park, Kan.-based firm plans, organizes and manages regional, national and global meetings for groups of any size.

Jennifer Malpiede, outreach coordinator for Denver Public Schools Office of Business Diversity.

Vern Howard, owner of A Star’s Photography in Denver.

Debra Luckett, chief operating officer of Denver-based OSP Prevention Group. The firm helps broadband providers, underground facility operators and government agencies spend wisely on construction and the maintenance of their operations. Ms. Luckett’s areas of expertise include strategic planning, business development and sales training, project management and leadership development.

Otis Jackson of Custom Products & Sales, Inc., in Aurora, Colo. Since 1990, the company has been a full-service printing distributor, providing commercial printing, digital imaging, business forms and large-format printing.

Steven Brier, vice president of marketing, and Brian Duran, vice present of sales, for Istonish in Greenwood Village, Colo. For more than 25 years, Istonish has provided IT consulting, IT-managed services and tech security.