A conversation on the importance of diversity and equality in Michigan’s supply chain

Bobby Chasnis

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) Director Bobby Chasnis speaks with Duc Nguyen Abrahamson, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC), about creating opportunities for diversity and equality in Michigan’s supply chain.

Throughout the conversation, we learn how working with minority-owned suppliers can contribute to job creation, increase healthy competition and build resiliency in local economies.

See below for excerpts and key insights from the conversation and watch the full 30-minute livestream to learn more.

Diversifying your supply chain can help you grow in the face of industry disruptions.

Bobby: Can you discuss the prevalent challenges that you've seen on both the supplier and buyer side as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions?

Duc: Well, many suppliers and buyers have been dealing with these issues for some time now. The impact of COVID on manufacturing and production logistics alone—providing a safe workplace, adding additional space for distancing, disinfecting between shifts and the disruption in resources in manufacturing—have been just some of the challenges. Many APACC members who have factories overseas have been dealing with this since December of 2019. So, the events of the last year and recent events, like the disruption of the global supply chain, has shown buyers their need to diversify and not be dependent on one source.

Another recent example was the severe weather in Texas. With the supply chain already in a fragile state from COVID-19, this disruption has had a major impact on the state’s industries.

Similarly, we had the issue with the Suez Canal being blocked for almost a week—blocking 10% of the global shipping traffic. We’ll be feeling those effects for some time. These disruptions can spark a ripple effect through the world economy, which is why diversifying your supply chain source is important. It's like your investment portfolio—diversify, diversify, diversify. In fact, some of our members have been able to thrive and grow in the last year because they saw the need to fill the gaps these disruptions created.

Bobby: Have you seen buyers going into other types of industries in search of supply chains?

Duc: I think it’s all about resources. When you deplete one resource, you're always going to try to find the next one and that next supply chain. The fact is, minority-owned suppliers were already there and had resources when others didn’t. They may not have been utilized to their capacity, but they were there. Corporations then realized we still need these things despite shortages. We need to move forward. It's just like when you went to Meijer last March, and you couldn't find any toilet paper; so, you went to the dollar store to find it—a place where you would not have looked for toilet paper in the past.

The resiliency of Michigan’s minority-owned suppliers and businesses is helping our entire economy not only survive, but grow, despite these disruptions.

Bobby: The need to localize the supply chain is there and is important. Minority-owned suppliers have shown that higher level of resiliency. Really, I think some of that comes from some of the big players or major corporations realizing that building on their supply chain locally has a major impact on the communities they serve and the communities they're a part of.

Duc: Truly, smaller businesses are getting us through all these disruptions. On that note, I wanted to talk about the impact of supplier diversity. The National Minority Supplier Development Council released their facts and figures for 2020, which showed that the economic impact of minority-owned business enterprises was more than $400 billion in economic output—much of which is reinvested in local communities. These businesses are also responsible for more than 2.2 million jobs, generating about $138 billion in salaries and benefits. Minority-owned suppliers are generating close to $49 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments. These numbers are only MBEs and certified by NMSDC, so we're not including the non-certified MBEs like women-owned, veteran- and disabled-owned. These numbers are just a small picture of the economic impact created by diverse suppliers. These statistics have a major impact in our economy.

Bobby: That's amazing, and those are great numbers. Thank you so much for sharing. It shows the kind of service that those minority-owned suppliers give, not only to communities, but to the state as a whole. Frankly, they're part of all our communities as well, and we at PMBC are continuing to do our best to build them up and support them wherever they may need, and a key part of that effort is by working with organizations like APAAC. We know how big of an impact these businesses have for everybody throughout Michigan and throughout the country.

There are many organizations available to help minority-owned businesses access new growth opportunities in Michigan.

Bobby: Duc, can you briefly give us a little bit of information about the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) and how you work with our program?

Duc: This year, APACC celebrates 20 years of facilitating business relationships among Asian-owned and U.S.-based companies—promoting the economic advancement of the Asian American Pacific Islander. APACC acts as a collective voice for more than 30 Asian and Asian Pacific countries. We often work with PMBC to find opportunities for minority-owned suppliers.

To learn more about PMBC’s partnership with organizations like APACC and to stay up to date with the latest in supply chain diversity in Michigan, please visit michiganbusiness.org/pmbc.

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To contact a business development specialist, click here or call 1.888.522.0103.