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CSU Supplier Diversity Initiative Drives Purchasing with Minority-Owned Businesses

Cleveland State University has increased purchasing of goods and services with minority-owned businesses by 3.23 percent (2.46 to 5.69 percent share) since launching its Supplier Diversity Initiative in Fiscal Year 2014. The initiative has the University on track to reach a 15-percent-total-spend goal by the end of FY 2016.

 “CSU is a diverse campus doing business in a diverse region,” said Stephanie McHenry, vice president for Business Affairs and Finance.  “By seeking to have our supplier base reflect our customers, employees and regional population, we establish ourselves as a community institution inclusive in its business practices and put money back into communities from which we are seeking customers.

“Additionally, we can potentially realize gains in pricing and innovation by introducing new suppliers and create a potential competitive advantage in diverse communities.”

McHenry attributes the initiative’s progress to multiple activities. Internally, the CSU Purchasing Department is tracking purchasing with minority-owned businesses at the departmental level and working with departments to obtain bids with minority-owned businesses. Externally, CSU is encouraging minority-owned businesses to register with the University and has made a concerted effort to produce and participate in networking events such as a recent Meet & Greet hosted in March.  

McHenry highlighted CSU’s $47 million Center for Innovation in Medical Professions as a recent success story. A diversity consultant, hired to oversee the construction project from the start, has matched minority contractors with Donley’s, the project’s construction manager. CSU also executed a community benefits agreement that includes five confirmed community partners. The building, nearing completion, is set to open later this year.