August 17, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Business Connections Conference Links Minority, Large Firms 
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2011

David Bronner 100225.jpg

David Bronner was keynote speaker at Wednesday night's awards dinner. (The Birmingham News file)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Banker Wesley Mindingall was working the room at the Sheraton Birmingham dur­ing Wednesday's Business Connections Conference.

A business lender for Wells Fargo in Bir­mingham, Mindingall said the South Re­gion Minority Supplier Development Council event provided an opportunity for him to meet with entrepreneurs and share how his bank can help them grow to the next level.

"It's a great way for me to network with minority business owners and find out how I can help them," he said.

The 29th annual event, subtitled "Taking Your Connections to the Next Level," is de­signed to open doors for minority- and women-owned businesses seeking con­tracts with major corporations and govern­ment agencies, said Chris Lewis, president of the South Region Minority Supplier De­velopment Council. "Our goal is to create more vibrant mi­nority businesses," said Lewis, whose agency certifies minority firms across Alabama and the Florida Panhandle and is affiliated with the National Supplier Development Council. "Everyone benefits when you have a stronger minority business base. So goes the minority community, so goes a region."

The SRMSDC annual conference began Tuesday with a golf tournament at Oxmoor Valley in Birmingham, featuring minority firms, big firms and government agencies that partner with the organization.

Wednesday's events included several workshops on how to position your business for corporate and federal contracts, a business expo and a matchmaker session connecting minority entrepreneurs with big firms. Luncheon keynote speaker was Todd May, manager of the Space Launch System Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Bob Dickerson of the Birmingham Business Resource Center, who moderated the luncheon, said he was impressed with the caliber of businesses and politicians that participated in the various workshops. They included Cassius Butts, regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration; David Brock of the Marshall Space Flight Center; Dudley Reynolds, president of Alagasco; and Jay Hall, vice president of technology support for Blue cross Blue Shield of Alabama.

David Bronner, head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, was keynote speaker at the SRMSDC's Annual Crystal Awards Dinner Wednesday night. Several businesses and individuals were presented the annual SRMSDC Crystal Awards. Winners were:

> Impact of the Year -- Jim Scott of Alabama Power Co.

> Corporate Buyer of the Year-- Andrew Leach of Volkswagen Group of America

> Executive/CEO of the Year -- Thomas Loafman of Volkswagen Group of America

> Corporation of the Year -- Alabama Power

> MBE Supplier of the Year (Class 1) -- The Trinity Design Group

> MBE Supplier of the Year (Class 2) -- Mitchell Industrial Contractors

> MBE Supplier of the Year (Class 3) -- Trillion Communications.

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