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The Catalyst

MUSC, minority vendors building relationships

By Mikie Hayes
Public Relations

MUSC President David Cole, center, joins S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson, left, to welcome guests to the Sept. 20 Partners in Progress Minority  Fair event. photos by Cindy Abole, Public Relations

A large turnout of representatives from the Charleston minority business community were on campus Sept. 20 to learn how to become involved in MUSC’s $350 million Children’s Hospital and Women’s Pavilion project as well as how to do business with the university and Medical University Hospital Authority for projects and services.

Under the direction of Lisa Montgomery, executive vice president of finance and operations, Velma Stamp, director, university purchasing and grants and contracts accounting; Regine Villain, MUSC chief supply chain officer; and their committee planned MUSC’s Minority Vendor Fair. With 84 guests in attendance, their painstaking efforts clearly paid off.

"One of the most fulfilling parts of planning the event was the strong collaboration between the hospital and university across all levels. It was also important to reach outside MUSC to get the input and participation from key community stakeholders. MUSC has tenure within the community; it was only right to continue to promote local and minority vendors. We recognized that we needed to reach out to the minority vendors and let them know: 'We want to know what you do,'” said Villain.

Community minority business owners were extremely interested in learning more about how to do business with MUSC, especially in light of the massive construction project slated to break ground early 2015. The $350 million figure represents huge potential for businesses ranging from construction to Information Technology.

President Cole expresses his committment to ensuring diversity and inclusion to the audience.

Guests had an opportunity to visit more than a dozen tables and areas that were arranged throughout the first floor of the Drug Discovery Building and meet representatives of MUSC, including Montgomery and President David Cole, reached today, but I think you will be impressed – once we reach an agreement – with the numbers of the goal and the commitment of the goal that MUSC is going to strive to make when it comes to minority participation.”

The senator thanked the other partners in the room and assured guests that the creation of jobs for the minority community was not just an MUSC effort going forward; for him it was a Charleston County effort. “We’re looking for results, he told them. “We have to be prepared and we have to do a lot of work to do to be prepared.”

Anthony Lawrence, executive vice president of Brownstone Group, took the podium and said “There’s something magical going on here, ladies and gentlemen.” He explained that many of the comments Kimpson had just made were ideas he too wanted to share with them about the project. “It feels good to have that synergy already in place from the leadership level, as we move forward. We appreciate President Cole and Senator Kimpson for their commitment to this effort — because oftentimes if you don’t get that level of understanding of what diversity and inclusion means from the leadership, it’s hard to get it to trickle down.  It’s very difficult. We hope the lessons learned from this project serve as an impetus for how you do diversification throughout all the aspects of what MUSC is going to be working on. We see this project as a model. This is how you do it: how you get local, small vendors and individuals involved in a meaningful way.”

Following the keynote addresses, guests were invited to attend breakout sessions to learn specifics about the project and business opportunities. Lawrence spoke to standing room only groups while crowds waited outside the room for the next sessions.

Breakout sessions were well attended and provided key details about business opportunities.

Of the success of the fair, Stamp said, “Recently, Dr. Herman Blake spoke at the retreat for our Diversity and Inclusion orientation, and in his closing remarks he said, ‘let’s work on changing what is impossible.’ The success of the minority vendor fair event, to me, was a major step in achieving what some may view as impossible. We understand that our work has just begun, but we have a committed leadership team, staff, and community leaders. And as evidenced by the enthusiasm and energy at the fair the community itself, we believe we will change what is possible and impossible.”

When asked about the day’s event, Sen. Kimpson said, “It’s important because MUSC recognizes that there has not been — in America or South Carolina — full participation in economic and procurement opportunities for minorities. Today is a very constructive step forward in addressing this issue.”

Montgomery agreed with the senator and added, “I would like to thank the many minority business leaders who joined us at the event. We received very positive feedback, and we look forward to working with them on upcoming projects.” She also took an opportunity to thank the committee who worked so diligently to ensure the success of the event.

“I want to offer a very special thank you to all the members of the planning committee for the time and effort they invested in hosting this successful event. Their efforts will undoubtedly have a lasting impact,” Montgomery said.

The new 675,000–square–foot facility will be situated adjacent to Ashley River Tower, on the property where Charleston Memorial Hospital formerly operated. That structure will be demolished to begin the new construction project.

The new facility, which is considered “phase two” of MUSC’s 30–year hospital replacement program, will house approximately 200 beds and include children’s emergency services, a neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, special care nursery and, labor and delivery unit, as well as women’s services and specialties.

The current Children’s Hospital and women’s facilities are being taxed to their limits and soon will not be able to handle the expected growth. The board of trustees approved the project in December 2013 and architectural and construction partners were selected earlier this year.

October 2, 2014



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