A brilliant display of supplier diversity has been gracing minority business enterprises since 1967. Still bridging the gap between large influential corporations and minority-owned businesses, the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (ChicagoMSDC) celebrated its 50th Annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair (CBOF) on April 20-21.
CBOF prides itself on being the longest running conference and trade event in the country that is “focused on economic empowerment of minority business enterprises.” Every year, it attracts thousands of minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs who gather to show their purchasing power and to present their goods and services to corporate and government buying organizations that have a need for diversity in their sectors. “CBOF is as relevant today, in 2017, as it was when it was introduced back in 1967, says Shelia Morgan, ChicagoMSDC president and CEO. “The economic impact of American minority businesses on the global economy is increasing exponentially but their access to opportunities is not expanding commensurately.”
This year’s event kicked off on Thursday, April 21 with continuing education workshops and panel discussions strategically designed to educate suppliers, give guidance and prepare attendees for success far after the conference ends. There were also 12-minute Corporate One-on-One Power Pitch meetings that encourage interaction between corporate buyers and minority suppliers
After a full day of workshops and discussions, the first day of the CBOF concluded with the 50th Anniversary Celebration dinner and tribute to legends of supplier diversity. The Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee also acknowledged this year’s scholarship recipients, outstanding buyers, successful suppliers and supplier diversity advocates. The ChicagoMSDC 2017 Corporation of the Year Award was presented to The Allstate Corporation, which has been the Presenting Sponsor of CBOF since 2009.
The Sponsors Breakfast on Friday morning featured a panel moderated by Roland Martin, host and managing editor of “News One Now” and featured Henry Cisneros, CityView co-founder and chairman; Christopher Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises chairman and Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner addressed the audience and expressed his commitment to minority businesses. The breakfast was followed by the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which opened the 50th Annual CBOF Trade Fair where exhibitors promoted goods and services across a vast range of industries. After the fair, attendees retired to the Topping Out event to network in a relaxed environment.