Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is among nine colleges and universities to be recognized nationally for focus on inclusive purchasing from minority-owned businesses. The school was presented with the Jesse L. Moore Supplier Diversity Award by Insight Into Diversity Magazine, the oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.
Kim Patrick, Director of Procurement Services, said GVSU's supplier diversity program has been around since the early 2000's. During its time it's identified diverse vendors and helped many minority-owned businesses learn how to work and establish relationships with universities.
"Diverse businesses typically face barriers such as access to capital and networking opportunities, and effective supplier diversity strategies can alleviate these pain points," Patrick said, "Minority-owned businesses have to do it faster, cheaper and more efficiently to survive in the marketplace."
Patrick said his goal for the program is to become nationally recognized and eventually help train other higher education insitutions in inclusive purchasing.
Valerie Rhodes-Sorrelle, vendor relations manager for Procurement Services, said another current goal for GVSU is to increase partnerships with women or minority-owned businesses through expanding opportunities such as requesting quotes, bids or formal proposals.
In 2020, the total supplier spend was $106.3 million, and 6.8 percent went to diverse suppliers, marking a six percent increase from 2019.
Rhodes-Sorrelle said getting recognition for her team's work this year was a good feeling.
"We were really honored and really actually humbled too...because it's not just the right thing to do when it comes to supplier diversity, it’s the smart thing to do. It makes really good business sense. It just shows you what we’re doing out in Allendale and hoping it spills into West Michigan as a whole,” Rhodes-Sorrelle said.
The eight other institutions to receive the award are Clemson University, Drexel University, Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative at the University of Illinois, Metropolitan Community College of Kansas City (Mo.), Miami University, University of Connecticut, University of Houston and University of South Florida.