An Agenda for Suppliers: New York-New Jersey group rolls out new programs

The Minority Supplier Development Council of New York & New Jersey Inc., formerly the New York/New Jersey Minority Purchasing Council, goes live this year with two programs designed to enhance business relations between major corporate purchasers and minority suppliers. ?We are truly working on the cutting edge of supplier diversity to motivate and provide purchasers [with] the tools to include minority-owned businesses in contracting opportunities,? says Lynda Ireland, the council?s president.

Formed in 1973, the council seeks to expand business opportunities for minority suppliers by linking them with purchasers in the public and private sectors. To do so, it has formed alliances with its 200-plus Fortune 500 members, government agencies and institutions and 1,200 or so affiliate MBEs.

The Supplier Diversity Online Distance Learning program, a training program on supplier diversity for public- and private-sector buyers, will debut in late spring, after over a year of research and development and strategic alliances with the Interracial Council for Business Opportunities and Rutgers University?s Office of Continuous Education and Outreach to develop a comprehensive, interactive program. The program includes ?live? chat room capabilities to enable parti-cipants to exchange? best-practices information online and develop diversity strategies, discussions led by a professor and access to online research material. Participants undergo a series of tests to determine whether they will enter the course at the beginning, intermediate or advanced level. They will receive credit for the course from Rutgers University, plus credit toward a purchasing manager?s certificate through the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Purchasing Managers. The council?s corporate members get to attend free of charge.

Later in the year, the council will unveil an Academy for MBEs, described by council officials as a new educational program for the advancement of growth-oriented minority business enterprises. The certificate course, designed, like the distance learning program, in a joint effort with the Interracial Council for Business Opportunity and Rutgers University, will focus on practical and real skills for successful small business management. The goal is to increase profitability through improved organization, management, business operations and marketing strategies, the council says.

The academy is also offered through Rutgers? Office of Continuous Education and Outreach and is presented as a sequential series of one-day modules. The course will run for 14 weeks, with classes of no more than 10 individuals per class meeting for eight hours each week. A mandatory preassessment of each participant?s firm will be conducted to make sure the firm is ?poised to raise the bar? of its operations, the council says.

?The academy for MBEs will provide practical information on business principles, trends and current research. It will give participants an opportunity to learn from both practitioners and academics using a hands-on approach, enabling participants to apply the principles to their day-to-day business operation,? the council said in a formal statement. Graduates of the academy will be able to take advantage of extended hours, free of charge, for assistance in implementing the principles learned at the academy.

The council ( may be contacted in New York through its affiliates in Westchester and Rockland Counties, New York City and Long Island, and through its New Jersey affiliates in northern Jersey, greater Newark, mid-Jersey and Trenton.