In 2023, Evergy, Ralph G. Moore & Associates (RGMA) and Burns & McDonnell took a leap forward with the launch of a novel business development program designed to educate and equip small and diverse businesses with tools they need to succeed in today’s ever-changing business environment.

The inaugural Burns & McDonnell Business Diversity Accelerate Capacity Building Program matched nearly 40 owners or executives of small and diverse businesses with an Evergy or Burns & McDonnell mentor for the duration of the six-month course. The program, which kicked off in March and wrapped up in August with a final session and graduation ceremony, has been a partnership between Burns & McDonnell and Evergy and contracted with RGMA.

The program focused on sharing techniques and best practices that diverse business enterprises (DBEs) need to compete successfully in the construction industry. DBEs are defined as minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE), veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned Businesses (SDVOB), and LGBT-owned. The program is a key element of the Burns & McDonnell commitment to business and supplier diversity. That commitment includes more than $2.2 billion in total spend directed toward DBE partners over the prior five years.

“This collaboration with Evergy and RGMA will prove to be a game changer for DBEs,” says Tammy Martin, business diversity program director at Burns & McDonnell. “Helping small and diverse businesses compete and thrive creates a ripple effect of good jobs, excellent services and products for the customers they serve, as well as an economic boost for the broader community. That’s why we’re so proud of our continued, long-standing commitment to supplier diversity and the programs that position DBE partners for sustained success.”

“Corporate America demands excellence, innovation and new ideas,” says Ralph G. Moore, president and founder of RGMA, who led many of the sessions. “Thousands of DBEs have the capabilities to meet these demands, but need guidance on transforming their capabilities into solutions for corporate customers. The Accelerate program fills that void by providing training and insights on how to hone their capabilities into compelling value propositions that deliver competitive goods and services to corporate America.”

Moore has served as the lead training resource for the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) for 24 years. He and RGMA colleague Reginal Layton were instrumental in developing the Accelerate program.

“When we were approached about developing the Accelerate program we were tasked with compressing what would normally be a two-year program down to six months,” Layton says. “As Ralph and I reengineered our teaching model, we saw it really could be done as a focused effort on helping these businesses build the capacity they need. By learning the nuances of competing for construction projects run by Evergy and Burns & McDonnell, they gained insights that can be applied to competing for contracts with many other major companies.”

The Accelerate program provides participating diverse business owners with instruction on 10 critical business strategies that work in sync to drive world-class results. It is designed to help DBEs go beyond a one-to-one relationship between a corporation and diverse supplier, expanding toward a cohort model in which multiple corporate buyers have relationships with diverse suppliers. This “Many-to-Many” concept provides more sustainability, resiliency and resources for small and diverse firms. The Accelerate program will be offered again in 2024 in a hybrid series of in-person and virtual sessions, building on content presented in the inaugural program.


This post is part of Together By Design, a business diversity newsletter published by Burns & McDonnell to advance a community of inclusion. This newsletter features stories of great opportunity, leaders who bring out the best in others, innovative approaches, and diverse perspectives that shape the business community and the world at large.

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