SRP Elevates and Assists Women and Diverse Businesses with Supplier Diversity Program

Aug. 20, 2021
Project, under the Supplier Diversity Program, has been providing business opportunities to women and minorities.

For the past 26 years, Salt River Project has been committed to enlisting diverse subcontractors such as small, local, veteran-, women- and minority-owned businesses through its Supplier Diversity organization. Even during 2020, one of the hardest business years in recent memory, SRP buyers, analysts and business units achieved SRP’s fiscal-year goal of 24% in diverse spend, otherwise known as “SRP’s 2021 Supplier Diversity" goal.

For small business owner, Teresa Ornelas, these aren’t just numbers. SRP’s ongoing partnership with her company means corporate survival for her all-female staff at her Tempe-based business, Great Impact“SRP was my first corporate client. SRP'S commitment to supporting the community is clearly a priority,” said Ornelas, founder, president and chief executive officer of Great Impact. “The Supplier Diversity team does an amazing job because they understand we are all connected. When SRP helps small and minority business, they are helping Arizona families.”

According to Patti Pyle, SRP’s manager of Supplier Diversity, the goal is to “contribute to the development of a rich supply chain by utilizing local, diverse and sustainable businesses in SRP’s purchasing endeavors.”

Great Impact is a certified woman-owned, minority-owned small business that develops promotional items for marketing campaigns, networking events, trade shows, corporate gifts, incentive programs, uniforms and more. It is also a member of SRP’s Supplier Diversity program — one of more than 700 certified women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses that do business with SRP.

In fiscal year 2021, SRP’s Supplier Diversity group hired and worked with minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses to the tune of US$178 million with more than 634 small, local and diverse businesses represented. For fiscal year 2022, SRP hopes to reach 25% in diverse spend.

 “Our employees strive to hire diverse businesses because it is a critical element of SRP’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity and helps ensure that our community-based, not-for-profit utility reflects the community we serve,” said SRP Vice President John Hoopes. “SRP was founded more than a century ago by local residents who came together for the common good, and community remains at the heart of who we are today.” 

According to the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the pandemic hit minority-owned businesses especially hard. It is estimated that approximately 40% of black-owned businesses will not or did not return to the supply chain due to the pandemic. As part of its diverse supply chain effort, many of the businesses enlisted by SRP are Arizona companies — with 58% of SRP’s total diverse spend intentionally awarded to Arizona businesses.

“Supporting small and diverse businesses within our community is the driving force of Arizona’s economy. It allows SRP to help build the local economy, promote sustainability by reducing shipping and contribute to our customers’ success,” added Pyle. “Connecting minority-, women- and veteran-owned small businesses with large companies and getting them into the mix of suppliers helps to unlock their potential, boosts the local economy and supports good jobs for Arizonans.”

As a small business owner, Ornelas helps other companies make lasting impressions to grow their businesses through custom promotional products. The mother of four has been an entrepreneur for more than two decades. She says her partnership with SRP has altered her business in more ways than expected. A couple of years ago, Ornelas attended a sustainability training class offered by SRP and the Women Business Enterprise Council. The training inspired her and her employees to create a recycling center within the company.

“I started my company from a need to be a better mom and it grew to be a way to show my kids about hard work,” Ornelas said. “My oldest daughter now works with me, and we have a succession plan where she will take over. It’s extremely important that we celebrate our differences, and that corporate leadership embraces supplier diversity. Without it, small businesses don’t always have the same opportunities.”

Local and diverse suppliers can visit, here to learn more about opportunities.

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