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SHARE BENEFACTORS—Derrick Wilson, president and CEO of the Wilson Group, along with Blayre and Horace Britton, owners of CDI Printing, have forged relationships with corporations from previous SHARE events. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)

Considered a premier community collaboration in Pittsburgh that has become an excellent medium for corporations to meet and partner with a pool of the region’s finest Minority Women Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (MWDBE), the fourth annual SHARE supplier diversity event has been declared a success.

April 19 at Rivers Casino was the site where top Pittsburgh economic powerhouses and community organizations converged, uniting the region’s most prominent corporations and institutions with MWDBE suppliers. The goal? To expand opportunities and increase growth among area small businesses.

“This yearly SHARE event allows these groups to connect and explore opportunities to do business together. SHARE is an occasion for MWDBEs to showcase what they can offer to the region’s largest corporations that they seek to do business with, and for corporations to educate on their programs and business practices, and to find effective MWDBE suppliers to support their needs,” explained Toni Y. Silva, director of supplier relations at UPMC and one of the original event organizers.

Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto kicked off the event with remarks, and Geovette Washington, Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Legal Officer of the University of Pittsburgh served as keynote speaker. Video presentations from successful MWDBEs were shown and over 80 matchmaking sessions occurred. KDKA-TV’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland served as emcee.

Both Fitzgerald and Peduto concur that this is a good time in the county and Pittsburgh. “There is a lot going on in this region and that’s a good thing,” said Fitzgerald. “There is a lot of economic vitality that’s occurring including the bid we put in for Amazon,” he said, pointing out that the name of the bid was Future, Forge for All. “That ‘for all’ is a critical component for what we need.”

OPEN FOR BUSINESS—Geovette Washington, Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Legal Officer, University of Pittsburgh, shared the university’s need and interest in doing business with area MWDBEs.

A strong advocate of the Rooney Rule, he said it has been adopted in the county because inclusion is not only important for executive hires but also when it comes to suppliers and contractors.

Mayor Peduto expressed his excitement about the development and growth taking place in the city. “For the first time in 50 years we are actually seeing the city grow. We will see a growth in population and the economics of the region continue to expand.”

Listing upcoming developments, he mentioned billions of dollars of investment being made on the university campuses in the next five years and UPMC investing $3 billion within the same time frame. “We see Allegheny Health Networks investing one and a half billion dollars, Uber investing over a billion dollars to an upwards of two billion dollars and the Ford Motor Company investing over a billion dollars.”

Referring to the needs of the city’s infrastructure, he said PWSA will soon announce a capital budget to spend $1.2 billion over the next six years, ALCOSAN over $3 billion to separate the sewer and water lines, and the Pittsburgh International Airport building a billion-dollar expansion. He encouraged the MWDBEs to sign up with the city’s Beacon program to be notified when opportunities and contracts are available.

Employed by one of the city’s largest employers, Washington spoke on the importance of the Pittsburgh business community to the University of Pittsburgh. “We are open for business,” she said, while pointing out that a large part of their focus is how they work and partner with MWDBEs. “We want to enhance our relationships with you and your businesses because we believe that being productive and cooperative plays a large part in our success as an academic institution, as a city and most importantly as residents of Pittsburgh.”

Washington, a Greenville, Georgia native, is a graduate of Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and received her JD degree from the Duke University School of Law. Prior to coming to Pitt, she served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Management and Budget at the White House during President Barack Obama’s administration. She also served as deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce where she was the second-highest ranking official in the Office of General Counsel for the cabinet-level agency with more than 40,000 employees.

The Wilson Group and CDI Printing are examples of the success of SHARE allowing businesses to connect and explore opportunities to do business together. “Without SHARE and some of the corporations we have been able to partner with in such a short period of time we would not be here today,” said Derrick Wilson, president and CEO of the Wilson Group. “On top of the business side it has also enabled us to provide gainful employment for 50 people.” The Wilson Group is a local minority-owned business with city, county and state certifications that markets a full line of workflow technology solutions for the creation, production, distribution and sharing of documents and information.

Horace Britton, CEO of CDI Printing, credits SHARE with introducing him to The Wilson Group. Appreciative for UPMC’s vision, he said the SHARE initiative has aided the progress of many minority businesses and has helped his business’ bottom line significantly. CDI Printing is a minority/veteran-owned commercial printing firm. Wilson and Britton expressed their gratitude to SHARE organizers.

Bender Consulting Services, Inc., a woman-owned firm that recruits and hires people with disabilities for competitive career opportunities in the public and private sectors, has also benefited from SHARE as well as Bounce Marketing and Events. CEO and president Fantasy Zellers, the event coordinator for SHARE 2018, also participated in the event previously.

The 2018 SHARE program was sponsored, organized and presented by a committee of representatives from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PNC Financial Services Group, City of Pittsburgh, Rivers Casino, Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, Allegheny County’s MWDBE Department, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, Highmark Health and the Women’s Business Enterprise Council. Additional sponsors include The New Pittsburgh Courier, Gateway and PJ Dick.

The SHARE event, created by UPMC, grew out of a 2013 effort to increase economic opportunities for minorities by the Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable, led by Fitzgerald and Tim Stevens, president of the Black Political Empowerment Project.

During the April 19 event officials announced that SHARE 2018 will be expanded to Harrisburg. It is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6. The event is sponsored by the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, Johnson Controls and UPMC Pinnacle.

 

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