MiSpringboard: Helping Michigan Entrepreneurs Put Their Bright Ideas to Work

MiSpringboard is Varnum’s statewide initiative designed to remove some of the barriers associated with starting a business by providing free legal services to Michigan startups.

Varnum launched the MiSpringboard program in 2011 as a way of helping Michigan’s then-struggling economy with a commitment of $1 million in free legal services, MiSpringboard was our way of helping the economy by doing what we do best – providing high-quality legal counsel to qualified businesses and individuals.

Due to the overwhelming success of this program, in 2016 Varnum renewed its commitment to Michigan startups by dedicating a second $1 million in free legal services through the MiSpringboard program.


Steps to Free Legal Services

Ideal participants should be located in Michigan, have a written business plan, demonstrate a need for Varnum’s legal support and have the potential to drive Michigan job growth.

MiSpringboard Services You May Need
  • Corporation and limited liability entity formations
  • Equity investments and securities offerings
  • Capital structure planning
  • Trademark registration and acquisition of domain names
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Licensing
  • Joint venture agreements
  • Nondisclosure agreements
  • Employment agreements, compensation planning, and non-competes
  • Compliance with employment laws
  • Employee benefits
  • Research collaboration agreements
  • Distribution agreements
  • State and federal tax planning and compliance
  • Immigration
  • Privacy and security issues
  • Introductions to accountants, lenders and other resources


Qualified participants meet with a Varnum attorney to assess their business needs and are assigned a single point of contact at Varnum, even if their legal needs require attorneys from more than one practice area. Participants will receive approximately $2,500 in free legal services, although it may vary based on the need of the individual business.

For more information, please contact Joan Andrew at 616-336-6730 or [email protected]

2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Program – Apply Now through March 8th

Seeking the unstoppable entrepreneurs transforming our world.

There are a lot of successful people in the world. But to build something truly remarkable, you can’t let anything stand in your way. And only a few leaders are part of this special group: the ones who never give up. Driven by their desire to better the world around them, they stop at nothing to achieve their greatest ambitions. They cut through the noise of this transformative age by breaking away from the pack — and then end up leading it. If you are an unstoppable entrepreneur or have been inspired by an innovative leader in the Michigan and Northwest Ohio region, we invite you to apply/submit a nomination to the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2019 program, now in its 33rd year.

Deadline to apply is March 8, 2019.


Learn More – Read the full program package 

Apply Now – Submit a nomination


MMSDC President responds to Gov. Whitmer’s EO for disadvantaged businesses

MMSDC President responds to Gov. Whitmer’s EO for disadvantaged businesses

January 7, 2019, Detroit, MI—  With just three days in office, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has sent a strong message that Michigan’s disadvantaged businesses are a priority.

Just over a year ago, MMSDC created a bipartisan Meet the Candidate campaign inviting candidates from all parties in state and national elections to meet our constituents and share their platforms.  One of the first candidates to respond and seriously engage our constituents was then-Candidate Whitmer.  

She not only listened to our minority business owners and the corporations that support them to create and sustain nearly 200,000 jobs annually, but she has affirmatively responded.

This is not a handout or baseless preferential treatment, as the private sector has realized proven cost savings, greater innovation, and enhanced value by becoming more inclusive. Her EO will simply help to ensure that everyone has a chance to compete.

On behalf of MMSDC, we are extremely proud to work alongside her and Lt. Governor Garland Gilchrist to define the best practice processes that will ensure all businesses have an opportunity to compete for state contracts for the betterment of our state and communities therein.” 

MMSDC Offices Will Be Closed December 24th – January 1st

Happy Holidays & Seasons Greetings from the MMSDC Staff!

All of us here at the MMSDC would like to wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

MMSDC Offices will be closed Monday, December 24th through Tuesday, January 1st for the holiday season. We will reopen the office on Wednesday, January 2nd.

We look forward to an exciting and successful 2019!



Joe Anderson, Jethro Joseph, and Carmen Muñoz are our 2018 Inductees into the Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame

For Immediate Release                                                                 Contact: Daniel Jackson
(313) 873-2124
[email protected]

September 10, 2018, Detroit, MI— The Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) has announced Joe Anderson, Jethro Joseph, and Carmen Muñoz as their 2018 inductees for the Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame.  This prestigious honor recognizes those with a positive transformational impact on Michigan’s minority businesses, including government and community leaders as well as iconic MBEs and corporate leaders. The induction will take place at the MMSDC’s 2018 ACE Awards program on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at Novi Suburban Collection Showplace.

“It gives me great pleasure to induct a dynamic group of minority business icons into the Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame,” said Michelle Sourie Robinson, MMSDC President/CEO.  “We celebrate the many hidden figures driving economic development in Michigan and beyond.  In their own way, each of this year’s honorees has made a significant economic impact on Michigan and beyond. Carmen Muñoz provided leadership in the Hispanic community at a time when women entrepreneurs were rare in her industry. Joe Anderson has built a legacy of mentorship by empowering minority entrepreneurs through professional and financial support. Lastly, Jethro Joseph assisted numerous minority business owners by helping them get their start through his work at FCA. I have tremendous respect for all of our honorees and can’t wait to join the chorus to thank them for the indelible imprint they’ve made.”

The MMSDC ACE Awards is one of the most significant minority business events that take place annually in Michigan where the top leaders, executives, and visionaries in the region come together to celebrate individuals and companies who are championing minority supplier development.

As a key driver of minority business development for over 40 years in Michigan, MMSDC is the home of the Michigan Minority Business Hall of Fame. This award honors men and women who have made significant contributions to minority supplier development in the state of Michigan.

To purchase tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please visit http://awards.minoritysupplier.org/.  For more information on the event, please contact Soo Karber at [email protected].

Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards – Apply by July 20th!


It’s Time to DREAM BIG!

Big dreams deserve big rewards, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is proud to partner with MetLife to recognize the very best in American small business.  Every year at the Small Business Summit, the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards Program honors the achievements of small businesses and highlights their contributions to America’s economic growth.

The Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award will be awarded to one small business that exemplifies success and leadership.  The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize.

In addition to the Dream Big award, Business Achievement Awards will be given in six categories to honor small businesses that demonstrate the spirit of free enterprise:

  • Emerging Business Achievement Award
  • Green/Sustainable Business Achievement Award
  • Minority-Owned Business Achievement Award
  • Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award
  • Woman-Owned Business Achievement Award
  • Young Entrepreneur Achievement Award


Applications are due July 20.

Visit www.uschamber.com/dreambig for more information.

Questions? Contact [email protected].

MMSDC 2018 Summer Hours


Effective June 1st, 2018 to September 7th, 2018, the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) and the Michigan Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will be observing special summer business hours.

Summer Business Hours will be as follows:


8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.


As always, we are committed to providing exceptional service to our constituency. If you have any questions regarding this change, please contact our office at (313) 873-2000.


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).