Sarah Miley, Denver program associate for the Colorado State University System, works on the new CSU Spur campus at the National Western Center in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood of Denver. Among other responsibilities, Sarah spearheads efforts to operationalize CSU’s commitment to the Anchor Mission framework by increasing procurement with local businesses impacted by systemic inequities.
Vida, the first of Spur’s three new buildings, opened in January 2022. Sarah and the CSU System team used the grand opening celebration as an opportunity to shift spending to impacted businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods.
She and her team set up meet and greets with local businesses and CSU procurement staff to help form relationships. They also utilized local partners like Center for Community Wealth Building, Focus Points, and Mi Casa Resource Center to reach women and minority-owned businesses. They hired Prodigy Coffee for the grand opening event and used Rocky Mountain Apparel for large runs of CSU Spur branded clothing. They utilized Taste The Love Cooking, Prieto’s Catering, and JT’s LJQ band for the sneak-peak community event held before the official grand opening. Plus, two local artists were hired to create art installations during the opening.
While Sarah is still compiling the total spend with local impacted businesses (the p-card spend was easy to track, but payments via checks and invoices are still being processed), she thinks it was a significant amount. She has received positive feedback from colleagues about their experiences working with local vendors. One important upside she noted to working with local businesses: “It was a huge help to be working with vendors from the neighborhood. They came through for us when corporate businesses were facing supply chain issues.”
Based on lessons from the grand opening of Vida, Sarah is organizing an orientation session for vendors that CSU and other groups who are hosting events at Spur need to call upon - for example, caterers, florists, sign-makers, equipment rental, gift products, promotional products. The intention is to orient the businesses to CSU’s invoicing and vendor registration process, and to familiarize them with the space and other relevant logistics to help set them up for success in providing services for events on the Spur campus. Sarah, with support of Alicia Armentrout, CSU’s assistant supplier diversity program manager, is developing systems to track CSU’s spending with impacted businesses. And Sarah is creating a list of event vendors to share with outside groups who are interested in hosting events at CSU Spur, with the intention of ensuring that local businesses see tangible benefit from the location of the Spur campus in their neighborhood.
Sarah shared that she is excited that others within CSU Spur are prioritizing local and diverse businesses. One example is that their consultant gave the staff a congratulatory party and used La Catrina Grill and Yours Truly Cupcake for the refreshments.
Sarah’s progress connecting with impacted businesses is amplified by her and Alicia’s engagement in the Denver Anchor Network Procurement Group, where anchors are sharing contact information for businesses and figuring out how they can start measuring their economic impact on impacted businesses.