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LVEDC Hosts Roundtable on Supplier Diversity Certification

By Colin McEvoy on October 18, 2018

Sally Handlon, chair of the LVEDC Local Sourcing & Business Diversity Council, speaking at the supplier diversity certification roundtable discussion.

Sally Handlon, chair of the LVEDC Local Sourcing & Business Diversity Council, speaking at the supplier diversity certification roundtable discussion.

Representatives from the Lehigh Valley’s small business community attended a roundtable discussion this week about supplier diversity and various certification programs available.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) hosted the Oct. 17 event, which included representatives from various business-certifying organizations, as well as an overview on why small businesses should become certified.

“Our passion is helping you evolve as a business and as business owners,” said Darius Hurst-Rodney, MBE Services Coordinator and Recertification Coordinator with the Eastern Pennsylvania Minority Supplier Development Council.

The event, held at the PBS39/WLVT Public Media Center in Bethlehem, was organized by the LVEDC Local Sourcing & Business Diversity Council, which is focused on advancing and helping to create women-owned and minority-owned businesses in the Lehigh Valley.

“The council’s mission is to provide growth opportunities for our small business sector through local sourcing and supply chain education and networking,” said Sally Handlon, who chairs the council, and also runs Handlon Business Resources.

Participants at the roundtable event also discussed how companies can go about the certification process, and heard examples of success stories from the certification programs of the various organizations in attendance.

Among the organizations represented were:

Hurst-Rodney said the Eastern Pennsylvania Minority Supplier Development Council helps companies become certified as minority-owned businesses, which in turns allows them to work with supply chains and help advance their business.

Gregory Dudkin, President of PPL Electric Utilities, speaking at the roundtable.

Gregory Dudkin, President of PPL Electric Utilities, speaking at the roundtable.

Gregory Dudkin, President of PPL Electric Utilities and a member of the LVEDC Board of Directors, was the keynote speaker at the roundtable discussion. PPL Electric Utilities serves 1.4 million electric customers, employs about 2,000 people, and invests $1.2 billion annually.

“To get all that done, we have to use a lot of outside vendors,” Dudkin said. “For us to be successful, it’s critically important that we have a great relationships with great vendors.”

Dudkin also said it’s important for companies to leverage business diversity to succeed. PPL Electric Utilities recently started a supplier diversity program, and also has an innovation lab that organizes sessions about how to address challenges and opportunities.

“We’ve looked back on the most successful and least successful sessions, and we learned if we had a group that was all experts, we’d get a pretty good solution,” Dudkin said.

“But if we had a group with one expert and a mix of others not from that technical background, but with different perspectives, that’s where we got the great ideas,” he said. It’s that diversity approach of thoughts that really drove the fantastic results.”

PPL Electric Utilities will be hosting its annual Supplier Diversity Conference and Networking Summit on Dec. 6. This free event at the PPL Conference Center in South Whitehall Township will give business owners a chance to meet PPL leaders and discuss potential supply opportunities.

The LVEDC Local Sourcing & Business Diversity Council works on the development of strategic initiatives to assist in business growth and development, education and training, and driving awareness about existing businesses and support services available to grow and sustain women-owned and minority-owned businesses.

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