2017 ACE Awards & Chairman’s Scholarship Gala: MMSDC Celebrates Ambassadors Championing Excellence & 40 Years in Supplier Diversity Excellence

Sowell Law Partners

Supplier of the Year - Class I

The Orsus Group

Supplier of the Year - Class II

w3r Consulting

Supplier of the Year - Class III (Tie)


Supplier of the Year - Class III (Tie)

MacArthur Corporation

Supplier of the Year - Class III (Tie)


Supplier of the Year - Class IV (Tie)

Ideal Group

Supplier of the Year - Class IV (Tie)


Supplier of the Year - Class IV (Tie)

Christie Wong Barrett

MBE Luminary of the Year

MacArthur Corporation

Matthew Cheetam

Buyer of the Year

DTE Energy

Brenda Marshall

Jethro Joseph Advocate of the Year

Kelly Services

Ford Motor Company

Corporation of the Year: Automotive OEM


Corporation of the Year: Commercial Products

DTE Energy

Corporation of the Year: Consumer Products Petrochemical, and Energy

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Corporation of the Year: Financial & Insurance Services

Barton Malow/Walbridge

Corporation of the Year: Construction (Tie)

Kelly Services

Corporation of the Year: Professional Services & Staffing

Jacquelyn (Jackie) Jackson

Volunteer of the Year


Robert Young

Executive of the Year


Dr. William F. Pickard

Minority Business Hall of Fame

GAA Manufacturing & Supply Chain Management

Andra Rush

Minority Business Hall of Fame

Rush Group


December 8, 2017, Detroit, MI— Michigan’s top corporations and MBEs gathered last week at the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council’s 2017 ACE (Ambassadors Championing Excellence) Awards and Chairman’s Scholarship Gala at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center to honor those who champion excellence in business.


2017 ACE Award Winners were:

Supplier of the Year: Presented annually to Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) who have excelled in growing their businesses, enhanced their operations, and actively participated in MBE-to-MBE purchasing. There are four awards given, with one going to each of the four revenue categories of MBEs:

  • Class I – Annual gross sales less than $1 million
  • Class II – Annual gross sales between $1 million and $10 million
  • Class III – Annual gross sales between $10 million and $50 million
  • Class IV – Annual gross sales greater than $50 million


Minority Supplier of the Year – Class I Winner: Sowell Law Partners

Minority Supplier of the Year – Class II Winner: The Orsus Group

Minority Supplier of the Year – Class III Winner: W3R Consulting (Tie)

Minority Supplier of the Year – Class III Winner: SEEL, LLC (Tie)

Minority Supplier of the Year – Class III Winner: Mac Arthur Corporation


Minority Supplier of the Year – Class IV Winner: Epitec (Tie)

Minority Supplier of the Year – Class IV Winner: Ideal Group (Tie)

Minority Supplier of the Year – Class IV Winner: Chemico (Tie)


MBE Luminary of the Year Award: A minority business owner who exemplifies the spirit of minority business entrepreneurs conducting business with other minority business entrepreneurs; providing mentoring, apprenticeships or internships while being actively involved in community and other special programs.

MBE Luminary Award Winner: Christie Wong Barrett – Mac Arthur Corporation


Corporate Buyer of the Year Award: One who directly makes purchases and through his/her efforts advances the cause of minority economic development. This award acknowledges the buyer who goes above and beyond normal purchasing requirements by significantly aiding MBEs, increasing his/her dollar purchases over the previous year, offers referrals to other companies, and attempts to identify new market opportunities.

Corporate Buyer of the Year Award Winner: Matthew A. Cheetam – DTE Energy


Jethro Joseph Advocate of the Year Award: An individual who is not a buyer but drives the process that promotes economic development of Minority Business Enterprises, such as a VP, director, or manager. This award acknowledges the individual that goes above and beyond in their efforts to not only source and mentor MBEs but also help their company and community understand why it’s so important to do business with minority suppliers.

 Jethro Joseph Advocate of the Year Award Winner: Brenda Marshall – Kelly Services


President’s Award: The Entire MMSDC Constituency for their efforts


Corporation of the Year Award: Presented to the corporation(s) who actively include certified minority suppliers in their procurement opportunities, assist in the development of minority suppliers, promotes supplier diversity and business development within their corporation, their vendors, other businesses, and organizations.

Corporation of the Year Automotive OEM Winner: Ford Motor Company

Corporation of the Year Commercial Products Winner: Herman Miller, Inc.

Corporation of the Year Consumer Products Petrochemical, and Energy Winner: DTE Energy

Corporation of the Year Financial & Insurance Services Winner: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Corporation of the Year Construction Winner: Barton Malow (Tie)

Corporation of the Year Construction Winner: Walbridge (Tie)

Corporation of the Year Professional Services & Staffing Winner: Kelly Services, Inc.


Volunteer of the Year:  This award recognizes a leader who is the ultimate giver of their time and talent in an effort to support minority supplier development and the work of MMSDC.

Volunteer of the Year Award Winner: Jacquelyn (Jackie) Jackson – Walbridge


Executive of the Year Award:  This award recognizes a senior corporate leader who empowers his or her team to drive minority supplier development, while personally remaining actively engaged.

Executive of the Year Award Winner: Robert Young – Toyota


The Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame recognizes those who have made a positive transformational impact on Michigan’s minority businesses, including devoted government and community leaders as well as iconic MBEs and corporate leaders.

Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame Inductee: Dr. William F. Pickard – GAA Manufacturing & Supply Chain Management

Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame Inductee: Andra Rush – Rush Group


 “We recognized corporations, minority businesses, and individuals who excelled in engaging, mentoring and advocating for minority suppliers this past year,” said Michelle Sourie Robinson, President & CEO of MMSDC. “Our Ambassadors and this year’s winners are true champions of excellence in minority supplier development.”

Boasting an attendance of over 750, the ACE Awards is one of the most prestigious business events that takes place annually in our state where the top leaders, executives, and visionaries in the region gather to celebrate the people who are making significant contributions to minority supplier development. At this event, minority business enterprises (MBEs) are honored for their excellent service in the past year as well as corporate members for their commitment to supplier diversity and supporting minority-owned businesses through purchasing contracts.

Note:  In those instances where there is a tie, there is no coin toss.  All individuals or businesses scoring the same in a category will be awarded.



The Workshop at Macy’s is an exclusive retail vendor development program designed to give select high potential minority- and women-owned businesses the tools to better succeed and sustain growth in the retail industry.

Macy’s, Inc. is a premier omnichannel retailer with iconic brands that serve customers through outstanding stores, dynamic online sites and mobile apps. Both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are known worldwide, and each has its own unique identity and customer focus. Bluemercury is widely recognized as the nation’s largest and fastest-growing luxury beauty products and spa retail chain.

Macy’s, Inc. clearly recognizes that the customer is paramount and that all actions and omnichannel strategies must be directed toward providing a personalized merchandise offering and shopping experience online and in store.

Diversity is at the core of the Macy’s, Inc. approach to doing business. It touches all areas of our company. We expect our associates, our advertising and in-store presentations and the companies with which we do business to reflect the diverse multicultural marketplace we serve.

The Workshop at Macy’s, our company’s first business development program, was launched in 2011 to foster growth in the next generation of minority- and women-owned merchandise suppliers. Conducted annually, this program is a foundational element of our commitment to vendor diversity.

With 101 graduated businesses, May 2017 marked the seventh year of the program as well as the continued creation of a viable pipeline of enterprises that will grow to become successful partners with Macy’s, Inc. and other retailers. The Workshop at Macy’s participants, many of whom describe the experience as “life-changing,” have taken what they’ve learned and grown their businesses to new levels after taking part in The Workshop at Macy’s. (Visit our alumni page to hear their stories!)

In 2016, our company’s purchases from minority- and women-owned businesses totaled more than $1 billion – surpassing the billion dollar mark for the third year in a row, including purchases from some of our The Workshop at Macy’s graduates.

Beginning in October 2017, Macy’s is accepting applications for The 2018 Workshop at Macy’s, which will be held in Spring 2018 in New York City. To apply, review the eligibility requirements and submit your application before 11:59 p.m. EST on January 28, 2018.

The Workshop at Macy’s is free to qualified applicants. Yes, you read that right. To learn more and get details on how to apply, see the program overview and review the eligibility requirements.

Read more about Macy’s business innovations and our commitment to diversity.



Visit Website & Start Application Now!

2017 UPS X-Port Challenge

Welcome to the 2017 UPS X-Port Challenge

The UPS X-Port Challenge is a promotion to help support small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs in their export initiatives.

To participate, businesses can apply to earn an opportunity to pitch their solutions/products with a potential to win up to $10,000 in export shipping credits in each respective district.

A designated panel of judges select finalists from regional competitions to participate at a Pitch-Off event. If selected as a finalist, applicants will pitch the judges on why their business is ready for the global marketplace. Three winners are selected from each regional competition based on their international appeal and execution strategy.

The district winners will compete in a virtual contest with the top three finalists competing in a National Pitch-Off event for cash prizes (1st place – $25,000, 2nd place – $15,000 & 3rd place – $10,000).


Attend The 2nd Annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017

An Open Invitation from Frank W. Ervin, III | Executive Director | Detroit MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center

It is with great pleasure that I write to invite you to attend the 2nd Annual  National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017 at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center in Atlanta, GA on August 15-16, 2017.  
With 200 attendees from 19 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC, last year’s Summit launch was the first of its kind focusing strictly on Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) manufacturers.
Now is a time of amazing innovation and change in the manufacturing industry. Where is manufacturing headed and how will we get there? You’ll get answers to these questions and more at this premier manufacturing event presented by the MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center network.
The day will commence with opening remarks on How to Tell Your Story to customers, partners, and stakeholders by Theresa Carrington, CEO of The Blessing Basket Project ®.  Our luncheon keynote will focus on Manufacturing in a Global Marketplace by industry leader  Steve Voorhees, CEO of WestRock.
For this year’s Summit, we’ve eliminated panel discussions and workshops and are focusing on getting down to business by going straight to the point with our Fast Pitch One-on-One Match-Making. These sessions will allow you to share your capabilities with sourcing professionals and potential customers and to connect with other manufacturers for potential partnering and new business opportunities.
In addition, ample time will be given for Networking Breaks, Innovation Pods, the Poster Walk and more! Our sponsors: BMW, Grady, Ingersoll Rand, and WestRock are pivotal to making this great event possible.

The National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017 is the first of its kind targeting MBE manufacturers, supply chain decision makers, and stakeholders.  It will be an impactful event to help you grow your business – one you will not want to miss. Register TODAY and take advantage of our early bird special.
Please visit our Summit website at www.mbemanufacturersummit.com for more information. We look forward to seeing you there!

 Register TODAY 



The ESSENCE Pitch Competition, held July 1, 2017 in New Orleans during the Essence Festival brought to you by Coca-Cola®, brings together emerging and established businesses in this ultimate national elevator pitch competition. In just 90 seconds, you can pitch your way toward a prize pool of $5,000! If selected for a business pitch, you get the opportunity to showcase your idea in front of hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and others from the entrepreneurial community.

Entries extended to Friday, May 26, 2017


Do you have an idea on ways to make cities work better? Whether it’s a solution to improve commuting, communication, urban design, eco-friendly – any innovation that improves the lives of city residents – this National Elevator Pitch Competition showcases “What Makes Cities Work?” You can win a spot to travel to New Orleans, LA to pitch your idea live Saturday, July 1, 2017 at Essence Festival brought to you by Coca-Cola®,! Interested in applying? Applications will open May 3, 2017 through May 26, 2017. Submit your information here!

Questions? Click here for an overview of the competition.


  • Have started and/or are operating a company (must be a for-profit venture and headquartered in the United States).
  • Complete a short business profile available on the Pitch City website.
  • Submit a 90-second elevator pitch video of you explaining your company/idea (YouTube or other video portal). Key topics for “What Makes Cities Work” include:
    • What is your business?
    • What is the problem in the market? How does your business provide a viable solution?
    • What is the market size and opportunity?
    • Who are you and what qualifications do you have?
    • What is the cost of your product/service and how much profit per item/service will/do you receive?
    • Who are your competitors and what is your competitive advantage?
    • How much traction have you gained to date?
    • How much investment do you need and for what?
    • A closing and call to action
  • Late entries will not be reviewed.

Who may apply?

Applicants for PitchCity must be established businesses with a valid Tax ID and can apply either as an individual or a team. Other eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Applicants must be have started and/or are operating a company (must be a for-profit venture and headquartered in the United States).
  • The company must be headquartered in the United States.
  • The company must have been in existence for at least six months.
  • Companies must have generated revenue or venture capital funding between $10,000 and $50,000 since inception. Companies that have generated revenue or venture capital funding in excess of $50,000 are ineligible to apply.
  • Applicants must sign a waiver with submission of their initial application permitting Essence, the USBC CEDC and affiliate partners to use their submission s for education and marketing purposes.
  • Applicants that apply as teams and advance to the final round may only send two team members to pitch live at the 2017 Essence Festival.
  • We reserve the right to limit the volume of subimssions at any time; therefore, applicants are encourages to apply early.
  • Finalists from previous Essence Pitch Competitions, current members of USBC CEDC Programs (Millennial Entrepreneurs Redefined; Capital Pathways), and the general public are eligible to apply.


Learn More & Apply Now 

SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative – APPLY NOW


The SBA is funded for the 9th consecutive year to offer the Emerging Leaders executive level training initiative. The goal of the program is to identify existing urban based small businesses that show a high potential for growth and to provide them with the network, resources and motivation required to build a sustainable business of size and scale. There are 15 slots open for businesses that meet the following criteria:

At least $400,000 in annual sales but not to exceed $10 million

At least 3 years in business

At least 1 employee in addition to the owner

Participants must be a key decision maker within the company such as the CEO, COO, CFO, Owner, or President.

The program requires participants commit to a total 100 hours, including 40 hours (13 sessions) of classroom training, 7 CEO mentoring meetings, and course work assignments. At the end of the program, participants will have a three year strategic plan tailored to their business, as well as a network of business resources that they can utilize well into the future. Classes start the end of April 2017 and run through early November 2017. The training is sponsored by the SBA and is provided at no cost to participants.

Training Module Topics:

Business and Strategic Assessment: Setting the Stage for Growth—Three Sessions

Financial Analysis and Management—Three Sessions

Marketing and Sales—Building Profitable Sales—three sessions

Resources—Getting What You Need to Grow— Includes Human Resources, Sources of Financing,

Government Contracting—Three sessions

Putting It All Together—Presentation of Growth Plans to Experts—One Session

To apply, please visit : http://www.interise.org/SBAEmergingLeaders All applicants will be reviewed and you will be notified of your status.

Questions? Contact Nancy Grose, Emerging Leaders Program Manager, [email protected], 313.324.3610.

For more information on the SBA Emerging Leaders initiative please visit:




Automation Alley

Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce

Great Lakes Women’s Business Council

Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce

Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council Michigan Small Business Development Center

Michigan State University Detroit Center




2017 Small Business Administration Awards Nominations



2017 Small Business Administration Awards Nominations

SBA’s Michigan District Office is now accepting nominations for its 2017 Small Business Awards. Winners will be honored at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business event on May 4, 2017. The Michigan Small Business Person of the Year and the Michigan Exporter of the Year will be in contention for national awards.

This year, we are looking for businesses that have received some assistance from SBA or an SBA funded resource partner or program such as: (SCORE, SBDC, Women Business Center, 8(a), Veteran Business Center, Emerging Leaders,  SBA Micro Lender, USEAC,  or SBA loan recipients.

To nominate a business, submit a preliminary one page nomination letter, following Steps A and B, and briefly address the criteria for each award. Your nomination will be reviewed for eligibility and you will be notified if the nomination merits further consideration in the form of a complete nomination package. Preliminary nomination letters that do not address A, B and C will be disqualified.

  • A – Individuals who have received one type of SBA assistance such as, but not limited to an SBA loan, SCORE counseling, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) assistance, and Women’s Business Center (WBC) assistance, government contracting assistance, disaster assistance, Emerging Leaders Initiative, or Boots to Business training
  • B – Indicate the company’s size to ensure that it meets SBA Size Standards. Click here for more information on SBA size standards.
  • C – Include the following information in the one page nomination letter that contains the following required information no later than December 15, 2016.
    • Number of employees in the company.
    • Annual sales in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
    • North American Industrial Classification code: Click here to find your NAIC code.
    • A brief paragraph that addresses some of the criteria for the award.

The following criteria should be your guide for the one page nomination, and the subsequent nomination packages. If you have questions, please call June Foyt at 313.324.3608 or e-mail [email protected].

Small Business Person of the Year

For developing an outstanding, growing business; innovative product(s), increasing jobs, increasing sales, overcoming adversity, and community contributions. Criteria include:

  • Staying power – a substantiated history as an established business
  • Growth in number of employees
  • Increase in sales and/or unit volume
  • Financial summary of the current and last 3 years (Number of employees, Total Sales, Net Profit (before tax), Total Assets, Total Liabilities and Net Worth)
  • Innovativeness of product or service
  • Response to adversity
  • Contributions to aid community-oriented projects

Small Business Exporter of the Year

Significantly increased export sales and profits, encouraging other firms to export, increased jobs through exports, and innovative methods of creating markets. Criteria include:

  • Increased sales, profits and/or growth of employment because of exporting
  • Financial summary of the current and last 3 years (Number of employees, Total Sales, Net Profit (before tax), Total Assets, Total Liabilities and Net Worth)
  • Creative overseas marketing strategies, with description of products & markets served
  • Effective solutions to export-related problems
  • Encouraged other small businesses to export
  • Introduction of unique trading companies
  • Volunteer assistance to other small businesses entering the export market

Veteran Owned Small Business

A business owned by a member of the military community including Veterans, Service-disabled veterans, Active-Duty Service Members eligible for the military’s Transition Assistance Program, reservists and National Guard members. Criteria include:

  • Financial Summary of the current and last 3 years (Number of employees, Total Sales, Net Profit (before tax), Total Assets, Total Liabilities and Net Worth)
  • Increased employment opportunities for members of the military community
  • Demonstrated potential necessary for long-term business success and economic growth
  • Voluntary efforts to strengthen veteran owned businesses within the community

Join the Discussion: Invitation to the 101 Eligibility Roundtables at the Midwest Regional USPTO Monday, Nov 14, and Monday, Dec 5


The USPTO is seeking is seeking input from the public on patent subject-matter eligibility through two public roundtables: the first on November 14 in Alexandria, Virginia, and the second on December 5 in Stanford, California. You are cordially invited to attend the webcast of the USPTO Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Roundtables at the Midwest Regional Office in Detroit. 


Roundtable #1 will be broadcast from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. (ET) on Monday, November 14. The first roundtable will focus on ways to improve the USPTO’s subject-matter eligibility guidance for patent examiners and how that guidance is being applied by examiners.

 Roundtable #2 will be broadcast from 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ET) on Monday, December 5. The second roundtable will focus on the legal contours of eligible subject matter in the U.S. patent system.


How to participate: 

· Register Today: Registration to attend the roundtables is free. To register, visit the Midwest Regional Office Events Webpage.

· Participate at the USPTO Regional Office: Registrants have the option of participating via webcast at the Midwest Regional Office in Detroit.

· Observe from your Desk: For those who register, the roundtables will be available for viewing live via webcast.

· Request to Speak at the December 5 Roundtable: Those wishing to speak at Roundtable #2 must register online by November 14, 2016, and indicate in the registration an interest in speaking at the event.

· Provide Written Comments: All comments for Roundtable #1 will be accepted on an ongoing basis and should be sent to [email protected]. All comments for Roundtable #2 should be sent to [email protected] and will be accepted until January 18, 2017.


For additional information about the 101 Eligibility Roundtable series, please visit the USPTO Events WebpageRegional offices and the USPTO Headquarters will also be hosting events.