Small and Diverse Business Forum Spotlights Supplier Diversity and Contract Readiness

NASHVILLE – Pathway WBC joined small and diverse business owners and major employers committed to supplier diversity last Friday, February 15 at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Small & Diverse Business Forum. The forum – sponsored by First Tennessee, Music City Center and Pathway WBC – offered networking opportunities, panels and breakout sessions to attendees seeking to grow their businesses through contracts.

According to the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency, there are about 8 million minority-owned businesses in the country. Both nationwide and locally in Nashville, these firms receive fewer contracts than other businesses, and have been considered underutilized by Metro Nashville. Cumulatively, minority- and women-owned businesses only receive about 16.5% of local city contracts in Nashville.

Attendees heard from Mayor Briley and procurement professionals from major Nashville players like Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, Nashville Sounds and the Airport Authority among others. And, Pathway Lending Chief Operating Officer Amy Bunton introduced keynote speaker Robert Sherrill, a well-known author, entrepreneur and champion of small and diverse businesses.

Sherrill shared his personal experience succeeding as an entrepreneur despite prior incarceration and described struggling in the past to secure housing in Nashville even though he had built a thriving business and nonprofit organization. Sherill’s experiences and insight helped highlight the importance of leveling the playing field for all entrepreneurs.


In her remarks, Bunton highlighted Pathway Lending’s history in seeking partnerships and aiding minority- and women-owned businesses in Nashville.

“We know running and growing a business is never easy. And from our experience partnering with clients over the last 20 years, we also know that many of you are succeeding despite facing additional hurdles. We’ve built Pathway – and partnerships with folks like the Chamber, Metro Nashville and First Tennessee who all continue to be great partners of our programs – to champion the growth and success of businesses just like yours,” Amy said.

Data show that companies focused on supplier diversity enjoy greater profitability, and large companies and government agencies at the municipal, state and federal levels increasingly measure supplier diversity in their procurement and contracting efforts. To ensure your business can compete for these contracts, government contacts in particular, you may need to get certified or take additional courses on developing competitive proposals. There are many resources available, and the right help can take the pain out of an otherwise daunting process and send you on your way to receiving contracting dollars.

Learn More:

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, March 6 and register to attend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Nashville District Small Business Industry Day (Tennessee State University Avon Williams Campus). The free event features seminars focused on how the WOSB program helps level the playing field for women-owned companies to compete and win federal contracts.

Cover Photo: Pathway Lending and Pathway WBC team members Pam Theis, Leslie Hayes, Courtenay Rogers and Phylicia Moye attend the Nashville Chamber’s Small and Diverse Business Forum on Friday, February 15, 2019.