WadeAs the head of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) for the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware (PANJDE), Wade Colclough is used to being at the forefront of growth, change and development for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE’s). In fact, he is often the one to advocate and implement the changes that will empower and unite business owners of color.

Colclough has sat at the helm of the NMSDC-PANJDE since 2010. Since taking over the regional reins of the organization, he has focused on a number of issues, however becoming a trendsetter and promoting the NMSDC mission of certifying, developing and connecting businesses remains at the core of his many tasks.

The veteran businessman recently sat down for a short question and answer interview with TNJ.com:

TNJ.com: What have been some of the major accomplishments of the NMSDC-PANJDE since you became president 4 years ago?

Colclough: The PA-NJ-DE MSDC has experienced a renaissance. Four years ago, we bench marked against our regional Councils, nationally-ranked chambers of commerce, and other certification organizations. We became trendsetters in creating our new mission—certify, develop, and connect. This new mission became the foundation and new adopted mission for the National Minority Supplier Development Council. We linked our new mission to our Council’s organizational strategy and charted a new course with some of our corporate board of directors—Allied Barton Security Services, Rutgers University, Aramark and RBS/Citizens Bank. Pepco Holdings—the parent company for Atlantic City Electric is heading the Council Board of Directors. The number of certified—MBEs continues to grow. We’ve engaged in aggressive procurement education campaigns and e-introductions between buyers and suppliers. The Council hosts post-certification workshops—in conjunction with the SBA, Minority Business Development Center, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation to help new and current certified MBEs to leverage their certification and connect to regional resources.

TNJ.com: What are some of the biggest challenges and obstacles facing minority and women owned business owners?

Colclough: Some of the biggest obstacles facing minority and women owned businesses nationally and locally is the economy. Even though that sounds general, today’s rapidly changing economy impacts procurement opportunities. Even though the stock market is trading over 13,000—up from 8000 in 2008—and corporate America is outperforming their prediction to Wall Street, corporate is timid about traditional ways of investing and outsourcing. In addition, raw material and the cost of goods continue to increase while the trend for a minority and women owned business is to demonstrate year-over-year cost savings to a buying institution, Many buying institutions are going from a 30-60 day pay to a 90 day pay to their suppliers. Business owners of color—too often frequently referred to as minority—play an important role in most Fortune 500 companies consisting of publicly, privately, foreign-owned, universities, hospitals and other buying institutions. Today, the NMSDC consists of a national office in New York City, 36 councils across the country and about 3,500 corporate members that spend billions of dollars. Business owners of color provide innovation, cost savings and speed to market than a normal corporate internal process.

TNJ.com: I attended a Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) conference a year or two ago. The agency boasts a whopping 25 percent M/WBE participation rate—a stat that far outdistances any other state agency in New York. There seems to be a steadfast commitment to fostering small minority business growth by New York state unlike any other in the metro area. Is there an agency in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware that is comparable to DASNY when it comes to utilizing the services of M/WBE’s?

Colclough: Small minority business growth in PA, NJ and DE is the key to the economic growth of the region. Some examples  of the biggest agencies in the 3 states include—in PA—The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) funded in part by the SBA and the PA Department of Community & Economic Development. In NJ, the NJ Small Business Development Center and in Delaware the Delaware Small Business & Technology Development Center. All of the aforementioned resources are at the forefront of increasing M/WBE participation with their respective states.

TNJ.com: Any final words or thoughts…advice you’d like to offer to the young African American man or woman who want to start a business?

Colclough: You can do it! Building business owners of color—minority business enterprises—is everyone’s business. The need for action is greater and more important now than ever before. For any region to be a top performing business attractive marketplace all sectors have to be nurtured, included and grow. The last line of discrimination is in the procurement arena. As a region and nation, we can take out rightful place if we embrace the return for diversity and inclusion. I applaud our business owners of color for they possess the tenacity and drive that our country continues to rely on.