This guest post is from Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, Pastor, Fellowship Chapel, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

It has been said that it is only through practice can progress be truly validated.

The Faith-Based Supplier Immersion day, held at Fellowship Chapel in December 2015, was practice that led to progress. The practice of bringing key executives for both business and service development from DTE Energy, coupled with minority contractors and vendors from the community, has led to a new beginning. The success of the program resulted in the awarding of $2.5 million dollars in minority contracts. The program also moved several individuals, not previously having an opportunity for such partnerships or access to contracts with DTE, to a higher tier in the journey to become a part of the DTE family.

Key executives from various departments were present to discuss the ways and means by which minority contractors and women can access contractual opportunities. This is a key strategy in the effort to increase business with this mega corporation. There are many minority contractors who simply have not mastered the process by which to gain access to the DTE family of business opportunities. Likewise, there are key executives in DTE that have not mastered the ability to discover and discern the unlimited capacity of minority contractors who can in fact do business.

This gulf that exists between community and corporate entity must be bridged. The faith-based community is a great way to bridge the gap between the vendors who seek to do business and the business community who seek such suppliers. No longer can we rest on the platform of “we can’t find them.” Through this program, DTE has determined that it will seek to find those who may have been neglected or who in fact deserve a second look in the process of doing business with the community. This marks a great change and a significant one in a true effort to expand business opportunities from DTE with the local community.

We applaud this program, and in particular those under the leadership of Gerard Anderson, Jerry Norcia, Dave Meador, Anthony Tomczak, along with David Johnson, Mark Jones, and Bertram Marks, in this critical area. Let us not consider this the ending but rather the beginning of an even broader partnership. We now see a new opportunity for minority contractors seeking to do business with DTE to get ready, get prepared, and to knock on the door. DTE is now answering that knock at the door. Let everyone make certain that when the door is opened, you are ready to walk in and take your seat at the economic table.

The future can be what capable and determined business persons seek to make it. DTE appears to be reaching out to this community in a most significant way. The community must now reach back to DTE by saying we are here, we are prepared, and we want to do business. We look forward to Faith-Based Supplier Immersion Day 2 in 2017. We have come too far in this great journey to turn back now!

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