“We all know that businesses who are small and diverse have a lot of different barriers that other suppliers may not necessarily deal with."

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – It’s been four years since the University of South Florida launched a program focusing local minority-owned businesses. As one of the largest economic drivers in this region USF is now being recognized nationally for their attention to detail on those businesses.

“We have really made a commitment to make a difference in this area,” said Terrie Daniel who serves as Assistant Vice President for USF’s Office of Supplier Diversity.

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The University of South Florida was recognized nationally Wednesday for its commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion across Tampa Bay.

“We all know that businesses who are small and diverse have a lot of different barriers that other suppliers may not necessarily deal with,” said Daniel.

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The university was selected as a recipient of the Jesse l. Moore Supplier 2021 Diversity Award which honors universities taking proactive steps to support and engage with minority-owned businesses. This year was particularly special for their continued success through the COVID-19 pandemic. “Women-owned businesses, black-owned businesses,” said Daniel. “We stayed the course and we really, really were focused on supporting small suppliers, especially our local suppliers during this time. We know that that is so, so important.”

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Daniel, who spearheaded the initiative, says organizations who focus on supplier diversity realize a much higher ROI than those who don’t. “Also, it’s really, really important to have a representation in your supply chain that represents the community, and we have a very diverse community here across the Tampa Bay region,” said Daniel.

With a total of 57% of people making up Tampa Bay’s ethnic population, Daniel says it’s a responsibility to support small businesses here. More specifically, given recent and current social issues relating to diversity and inclusion across the country.

“This is a really important conversation that I personally have engaged in quite a bit,” said Daniel. “When we see situations like the murder of George Floyd and now the trial, there is a very heightened sensitivity around these issues but it also puts in a light for everyone to see that we have more work to do. We are needing to really focus on equity and creating a level playing field for everyone to have that success and have that growth and have that opportunity and so that is what we will continue to focus on as a university on a daily basis and not just something that we’re going to be doing one time.”

Since launching the program, USF has spent more than $120 million with minority- women- and veteran- owned businesses since 2017.

Daniel says the team has also established some strategic initiatives like a tier 2 utilization program to split opportunities up and giving micro-suppliers an opportunity to work under USF.

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