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Veteran Entrepreneurship Advocate Recognized

Keith King, Founder and CEO of the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC), was recently recognized as a notable executive in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by Crain’s Detroit Business.

I remember the first time I met Keith King. He testified in support of the Senate Bill that eventually passed and created Public Act 91 of 2005. Public Act 91 of 2005 created a State of Michigan purchasing preference for companies owned by veterans with service-connected disabilities and created a goal for spending with these companies. At the time, Michigan was only the third state to have a preference (behind California and Virginia).

(At the time, I had the greatest job in state government. I was responsible for expanding our diverse and under-represented supplier base, and I played point on business outreach for the Michigan Department of Management and Budget (DMB). My job was to teach companies how to bid on state-level solicitations, focused on increasing bidding by highly qualified companies that had not considered state contracting as a revenue source. Second to the job I have now, it was my favorite. Talk about rewarding.)

Back to Keith.

I was immediately impressed. He was knowledgeable, connected, and a great advocate for veterans. Legislative testimony can be daunting. Not for Keith King.

After passage, I had the honor of implementing Public Act 91 of 2005. It was a challenge because the State of Michigan vendor registration system used in 2005 did not capture ‘veteran’ as an ownership classification. This meant we didn’t have a group of initial business owners for outreach or to determine baseline metrics.

Back to Keith again.

Keith King chaired a roundtable of service-disabled veteran-owned businesses (SDVOB), which became a critical source of information to get the word out about the preference, and to hold DMB (including me) accountable for action. The preference was successful in large part due to the efforts of this small-but-mighty roundtable. Keith eventually founded the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) because he saw a gap in the supplier diversity landscape. It flourished, which is no surprise.

Keith is a friend to every veteran in Michigan, whether or not they know him. I want to congratulate Keith on being named a notable executive in DEI by Crain’s Detroit Business. This is so well-deserved, and Keith is a tireless advocate for veteran entrepreneurship.

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