The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) opened its doors to nearly 400 stakeholders for the first-ever 2023 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Connect Summit on February 23, 2023, to raise awareness and increase the participation of MBEs and higher education institutions in DOE funding opportunities. A virtual offering for those unable to attend in person was made available via recorded sessions the following week, reaching over 150 additional stakeholders.
The event convened representatives from higher education institutions, financial services companies, non-profit organizations, DOE program offices and national labs, and representatives from local, state, and federal agencies.
The agenda included remarks from Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) Shalanda H. Baker, a keynote address from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Senior Advisor and Acting Director Jahi Wise, panel discussions highlighting new funding opportunities, and breakout networking sessions.
Secretary Granholm provided opening remarks where she reaffirmed DOE’s commitment toward a just and equitable clean energy transition and ensuring that the Department’s vast resources are equitably awarded and available to traditionally underserved communities.
“We have not done a great job of engaging minority-owned businesses and we have a lot more work to do to make our workforce look like America,” said Secretary Granholm. “And we’re asking you to hold us accountable. We want to be held accountable. We want to continuously improve and we can only do that with your input. Because we have a lot of work to do to bring all this funding to life. And we need your help to not just make it happen, but to do it right.”
Director Baker followed with inspiring remarks that reflected on the important role that MBEs and higher education institutions play in achieving President Biden’s equity and inclusion goals.
“It’s important for each person in this room to know how to engage with DOE and the program offices that actually provide grants, the funding opportunities, and the procurement opportunities. It is our office’s role to make sure you have the tools to be able to do so effectively,” said Director Baker.
“In this once in a generation moment to build a clean energy future that works for Black and Brown communities. To ensure that Black and Brown people are included in this transition as creators, as makers, and as innovators. So, this is our opportunity to close a generational gap by way of minority businesses.”
Highlights from the 2023 MBE Connect Summit:
In addition to the various speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions, ED announced key partnerships aimed at advancing the Department’s equity goals.
ED awarded $6.3 Million to Black Owners of Solar Services (BOSS) to advance equity in clean energy business and workforce development. The cooperative agreement establishes a regional effort to coordinate and train minority-owned businesses on how to apply for DOE funding and access DOE programs, benefits, services, and opportunities.
ED also announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Minority Business Development Agency. This partnership aims to improve MBEs access to industries and sub-contractors within the energy sector and establish pathways for opportunities to stakeholders by sharing and leveraging federal resources.
Energy equity and justice require policy decisions that are transparent, inclusive, and responsive to the needs and perspectives of diverse stakeholders. The 2023 MBE Connect Summit is an example of how ED is implementing the equity and justice policies established by the Biden Administration.
In case you missed it or want to catch it again, click below to access the full 2023 MBE Connect Summit.