OBCED restructures department to invest in Supplier Diversity


The Office of Business & Community Economic Development (OBCED) recently began
a restructuring process, which will result in some changes to our organization.

As you may know, The Office for Business & Community Economic Development’s
(OBCED’s) role has grown over the last 20 years from a single charge of diversifying
University suppliers to administering multiple community-based programs addressing
issues that range from health equity to computer skills. These programs have all
contributed positively to the economic growth, development, and prosperity of
Minnesota communities, in alignment with OBCED’s mission.

OBCED and the Office for Equity and Diversity recently undertook an extensive review
to assess the spectrum of OBCED programs. This review revealed a significant
opportunity to improve our effectiveness and increase our positive impact on the
economic development of Minnesota communities by further investing in the growth of
our long-standing Supplier Diversity program.

By the end of this academic year, we will redirect resources to our Supplier Diversity
program and phase out a number of our other programs. The following programs will
cease operations this spring: the Technology Empowerment Center (TEC), the
Management & Technical Assistance Program (MTAP), and Junior Entrepreneurs of
Minnesota (jEM). The Community Health Initiative (CHI) will continue to operate.
However, by the end of this academic year, CHI will shift its focus from providing
students with internships and consultancies in health-related organizations to providing
scholarships to students pursuing health-related degrees as well as community-based
research grants.

We are extremely proud of the positive impact that these programs have had at the
University and in the community, and we have not come to these decisions lightly.
However, we believe that our ability to positively impact the community is best achieved
through creating a best-in-class Supplier Diversity program that supports minority,
women, and disabled-owned businesses and facilitates their paths to becoming
University suppliers. By redirecting our resources, OBCED will be able to add several
new supplier diversity-focused positions and more effectively build powerful economic
partnerships between the University and underserved local communities in alignment
with the goals of MPact 2025.

Please contact Sharon Banks at [email protected] if you have further questions
about our restructuring process.