By Lonnie Ross
Mayor Tony Yarber welcomed a national representative of the American Red Cross to the city of Jackson during a business matchmaking event at the JSU e-Center on Wednesday.
The mayor was joined by Bob Covington, Director of the Minority and Small Business Division of the Mississippi Development Authority, and Sherri Ratliff of the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau, all who welcomed Jillnell Joiner, Manager of Supplier Diversity for the American Red Cross out of Washington D.C.
Joiner conducted a workshop titled “How to do business with the American Red Cross”. The event was attended by a number of minority and woman owned businesses interested in providing products and services to large government and corporate buyers like the Red Cross.
The Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council (SRMSDC) and The Mississippi Link’s Connect 1 Conference sponsored the business matchmaking event.
Daphne McBeth, SRMSDC Regional Director moderated the program. Her organization serves and provides the only nationally recognized ethnic minority business (MBE) certification in the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. The MBE certification is the designation that corporate America uses to track direct and indirect spending with businesses owned and controlled by ethnic minority owned suppliers.
McBeth and Joiner were originally scheduled to conduct a business matchmaking session at the Connect 1 Conference this week. But, the conference was rescheduled to March 2015 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Joiner decided to come to Jackson anyway, to meet with minority businesses.
At her request, SRMSDC and the Connect 1 Conference sponsored the matchmaking event on September 17.
To open the event, Mayor Yarber officially welcomed the national office of the American Red Cross. He said that he appreciated the work of the Connect 1 Conference. He emphasized the need for more business equality and economic opportunity for minority and small businesses in the city of Jackson.
Jackie Hampton, Publisher and co-owner of The Mississippi Link followed the mayor’s remarks by greeting the audience. She talked about the creation of the Connect 1 Conference and the business matchmaking session. The Mississippi Link is the producer of the conference and, along with SRMSDC, created the platform for the Red Cross matchmaking session.
Ratliff of the Jackson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (JCVB) welcomed Joiner and the American Red Cross. JCVB also provided registration support for the event.
Covington talked about the need for greater minority business participation in procurement opportunities. He said that the MDA provides certification and tools for minority businesses to help them connect to government business opportunities. He said that MDA will continue to support the efforts of the Connect 1 Conference and SRMSDC.
Joiner allowed all of the businesses and organizations participating in the workshop to present a 2 minute commercial. Each person had to describe their business, tell the audience what product or services they could provide to the American Red Cross, and say something personal that no one else knows.
After the “commercials”, Joiner stated that there were at least 3 companies that were a current match to do business with her organization. She gave tips on how to do business with large buyers like the American Red Cross.
Minority business owners, executives and company managers from the Jackson metro area participated in the workshop. Businesses varied from non-certified, partially certified and fully certified. Some of the businesses attending included Systems Consultants, Jackson Fortisteel, Liberty Bank, Southern Capital, GarrettECI.IV, Amerimac Chemical Corp., Every Nook & Cranny and Griffith Financial Services.
Joiner gave the workshop participants specific instructions on the first steps they should take with the procurement officer or buyer of a large corporation or organization. She also discussed what minority business opportunity seekers should not do.
Joiner manages the Supplier Diversity Program of the American Red Cross. Her program allows the organization’s sourcing teams and business units to build relationships with woman, disabled and minority business enterprises and facilitate access to bid and contract opportunities through a combination of advocacy, outreach, certification support, mentoring and referral.
Jared W. Turner, Mississippi Capital River Chapter Executive of the American Red Cross addressed the audience. He talked about services provided by the organization in Mississippi, especially in Jackson.
The American Red Cross provides disaster relief, support to America’s military families, lifesaving blood, health and safety services, and international services.
According to Joiner, nationally, the organization is currently seeking minority and women owned businesses that specialize in IT (information technology) services.
Joiner said that she will be coming back to the Connect 1 Conference in March 2015 on the Mississippi Coast and the Connect 1 Conference in September 2015 in Jackson.
“This event in Jackson was one of the best that I’ve ever participated in”, she said.