Introduction and Overview
The Cleveland Supplier Diversity Initiative (CSDI) is an economic development project focused on attracting a disproportionate share of the increase in the national corporate supplier diversity spending to minority businesses based in the Greater Cleveland region. The demonstrated outcomes of this growth initiative are the typical measures of economic development efforts; job creation, tax base, and increased community capacity. Additional benefits of this effort are a positive impact on home ownership rates, the strengthening of neighborhoods, increased diverse philanthropy and a progressive community image. Major corporations are increasing their spending with minorities at a rate of 20 – 25 percent per year. The percent increase demonstrates the rapidly growing purchasing trend. Although the growth rate is significant, total spending with minority owned firms remains below 5 percent of all corporate spending. This indicates the long-term nature of the trend and the size of the opportunity for an initiative like CSDI.
The approach to creating the CSDI was divided into three major phases. Phase One was The Market Review. The driving question of this phase was “How ready is the Greater Cleveland Community to compete?” Phase Two was the Market Research Phase or “What does the market want?” Phase Three was the Solution Development Phase.
The Greater Cleveland community is well positioned to gain a disproportionate share of supplier diversity spending. The community has a significant base of “relatively sizable” minority businesses, a sustained community interest in minority issues, and a solid base of corporations with supplier diversity programs. The Greater Cleveland community has also invested in the type of support organizations with a vested interest in assisting with the goals and objectives of CSDI.
The market (or demand side) is generally requesting an efficient method for finding “credibly capable” minority suppliers who have the knowledge, resources and expertise to pursue large scale, longterm supply opportunities. Demand for diverse suppliers outweighs the supply. The level of demand creates opportunities across industry sectors and supply needs.