Closing out the University’s commemoration of Black History Month, the Goizueta Business School organized a virtual event titled “How Emory Takes Action to Provide Access & Opportunity for Diverse Business” on Feb. 25. 

Assistant Vice President for University Partnerships Alan Anderson hosted the discussion and called the panel “an opportunity to learn, to discuss and to develop new ideas and strategies as we move towards a University united and committed to lasting progress on campus and in Atlanta.”

The conversation featured three panelists: Chief Procurement Officer Kevin Nash, Assistant Director at Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts Candy Tate and Program Manager of Start:ME Accelerator Erin Inglehart. Start:ME Accelerator is the only undergraduate impact investing group at the University.

Event moderator and Diversity Program Supplier Randy Brown, Program Director of Start:Me Erin Ingleheart and Assistant Director of Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts Candy Tate discussed how the University is expanding “access and opportunity” for diverse businesses on Feb. 25. (The Emory Wheel)

Throughout the hour long event, Anderson, along with the 81 attendees, posed questions to the panelists based on their respective expertise. Nash was asked about efforts in strategic procurement that are creating access to provide opportunities to local diverse businesses. 

Nash answered that strategic procurement is working on “being more active and engaging suppliers in our community.” He went on to say, “We’re also looking to engage other agencies including, but not limited to, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Women’s Business Council and the Atlanta Wealth Builders.”

“We’re also planning to utilize the enhanced functionality and our electronic shop with Amazon … to enable us to prioritize diverse and local suppliers,” Nash said.

A consumer can currently find much of the same apparel found in the Barnes & Noble at Emory on Amazon. This means the University uses Amazon as a vendor for Emory merchandise that is more easily accessible for some people not located near or on campus.  

There are also “long standing structural issues that inhibit particularly Black businesses from starting,” Inglehart acknowledged.

In Inglehart’s Start:ME investment group, she said they “try to lay strong foundations for Atlanta area micro businesses” and build diversity in a number of ways from operational management to hired suppliers. Similarly, there is a program within the Goizueta Business School, Inglehart mentioned, called Grounds for Empowerment “that connects female coffee growers at origin to business knowledge and market connections.”

Similarly, other programs within Goizueta, such as grounds for empowerment that connects female coffee growers at origin to business knowledge and market connections

Tate was asked about her efforts and connections with arts organizations and her work as an alumni in the neighborhood of Atlanta where Martin Luther. King Jr. was born. 

“The arts at Emory reach out to the community on a regular basis, and just recently, earlier this month, we worked with BronzeLens Film Festival to do a tribute for the late Pellom McDaniels which allowed us again to share audiences and resources,” Tate said.  

During her response, Tate also mentioned her work with the University’s Arts and Social Justice (ASJ) Fellowship, which allows chosen fellows to work alongside Emory faculty to create projects that reflect racial or other inequities. The projects will then be embedded into courses taught at Emory.

Tate has raised over a million dollars to fund the renovation of Fountain Hall at Morris Brown College (Ga.) and noted “historic preservation is economic development.” Morris Brown College is the first college in Georgia to be independently owned and operated by African Americans.

The panelists explained how they have worked with small businesses during the pandemic, particularly businesses run by people of color who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.  

While Nash focused on procurement’s efforts to help supply the Rollins School of Public Health with COVID-19 testing supplies, Inglehart delved into how the pandemic has “demonstrated the value of local small businesses that can identify and quickly adapt to local needs.”

“We’ve been able to connect entrepreneurs with some strategic procurement opportunities,” Inglehart said. “For example, [we’ve] connect[ed] local electricians in our network with [the] Emory facilities management team, kind of matching the skill set to a need.” 

Start:ME established mental health resources “to offer a safe space, guided by a local therapist for entrepreneurs to vent and share and work together on good coping strategies,” Inglehart added. 

In the world of Emory arts, “efforts have changed. As you say with the dance analogy, we’ve learned to pivot,” Tate said.