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Regions Exec to Chair Business Group Tracking Spending on Diverse Vendors in Birmingham  

Marcus Lundy during the launch of a new program to support small businesses in Birmingham, at Michael’s Restaurant on Wednesday, Nov. 10. (Ryan Michaels, The Birmingham Times)

By Barnett Wright

The Birmingham Times

Marcus Lundy, senior vice president, Supplier Diversity Manager at Regions Bank, has been named the new chair of the Inclusive Procurement Council for the Birmingham Business Alliance.

As incoming chair beginning in January, Lundy said he looks forward to helping the diverse vendor population in Birmingham and to continue reporting the diversity spend numbers for participating area companies.

“What gets measured, gets done so as long as we are measuring diversity spend, it will always stay top of mind with our participating businesses,” said Lundy, who was recently selected one of the 25 people in America as 2021 Diversity Change Leaders by DiversityPlus Magazine.

The Alliance works with the City of Birmingham on an initiative known as VITAL, Valuing Inclusion to Accelerate and Lift, which is a first step for economic growth and a unified process of reporting spending with minority-, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises (MWDBEs).

VITAL’s goal is to increase procurement of products and services from MWDBEs to bridge the gap between larger corporations in the region and the small businesses that want and need to do business with them.

The announcement comes with the launch of the Alliance’s Small Business Advisory Services (SBAS) program, an initiative with plans to work with 250 companies to create 1,300 direct jobs in the next five years. This program will work with cohorts of 20 companies at a time to provide customized advisory services to help small businesses grow jobs and prosperity in the Birmingham region.

The SBAS expands The Alliance’s goals to advance women- and minority-owned businesses, as well as compliments current work leading the VITAL program for the City of Birmingham and facilitating the Inclusive Procurement Council, which meets monthly to discuss best practices and connect with local small businesses pitching their goods and services to a curated group of buyers.

Funded by Prosper, The Alliance’s SBAS will work with the companies, over six-to-eight-month periods, with the goal of serving 250 businesses and creating 1,300 direct jobs over the next five years.

“We believe that growing small, scalable businesses headquartered in the region’s core is one of the most sustainable ways to drive long-term job growth and wealth creation across our communities,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO of The Alliance. “Our [SBAS] will help bridge some difficult gaps for both small and large businesses and make connections that will drive job growth in the local economy.”

Prosper President J.W. Carpenter said he is excited by the partnership to build a more prosperous and equitable future for Birmingham.

“Prosper is excited to partner with the Alliance and our Board of Directors to launch the [SBAS] as we work to collaborate to build a more prosperous and equitable future,” he said. “If we want to be successful as a region, we need to support and invest in a diverse group of local entrepreneurs as they work toward scalable outcomes which can catapult their businesses and Birmingham and Jefferson County.”