"We can be a catalyst for diverse populations so that they share in prosperity."
That is Farad Ali, president of the NC Institute of Minority Economic Development, better known as The Institute – a nonprofit management and consulting services firm focused on strengthening the asset base of diverse populations through policy, education and opportunities. The staff of The Institute serve as trusted advisors to large and small businesses, government agencies, policymakers and organizations, helping them understand the key role racial diversity plays in ensuring business success and the overall health of our economy.
Ali came to The Institute in 1999 and took the reigns as president in October 2014. Prior to that, he spent 10 years in the banking industry gaining retail, commercial, corporate and community banking experience – all of which made his move to The Institute a natural fit.
The Institute has recognized that because of demographic and technological shifts in North Carolina, traditional industries and markets are being replaced with new ones which require different skills and strategies for business success. Therefore, since taking the helm, Ali has had to adapt and shift The Institute's approach to operating within the sector. To help meet this challenge, Ali has established five centers – Policy Center; Center of E3; Procurement Center; Innovation Center; and Workplace Development Center – to provide more services to those seeking assistance in these changing times.
Under Ali's leadership, The Institute has focused on helping minority-owned businesses achieve greater scale, which results in more jobs and increased wealth. These businesses are working to transition from the start-up and entrepreneurial stages to professional, managed enterprises.
For example, Core Technology Molding Corporation – a minority-owned manufacturing company out of Greensboro, NC – came to The Institute as a start-up seeking access to capital. The owner then needed additional assistance securing public and private contracts to help grow his business. Thanks to opportunities presented by The Institute, both in and outside of NC, the business has flourished. Core Technology has gained regional and national attention winning numerous awards such as Minority Supplier of the Year by the Carolina Minority Supplier Development Council and Minority Small Business of the Year by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.
Core Technology is also now partnering with Guilford County Schools in an effort to introduce children to advanced manufacturing and to provide them opportunities to better understand STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) careers.
Ali has recognized collaboration is the key to success. "In this new community economic development space, the sea shift is forcing us to be more collaborative, working with other economic development groups, organizations, councils, municipalities to figure out solutions that will maximize reinvestment in communities, businesses and universities."
And it is partnerships with groups including the U.S. Small Business Administration Women's Business Center, U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, and the NC Department of Transportation that have allowed The Institute to develop a unified vision of creating and cultivating more economic opportunities for diverse populations through authentic inclusion to achieve shared prosperity.
Because, as Ali firmly believes, "having diverse perspectives and diverse people leads to the best outcomes."