Shalaya T. Morissette, Chief, Minority Business and Workforce Division, Office of Energy Justice and Equity, U.S. Department of Energy; Daymond John, CEO & Founder of FUBU and co-star of ABC’s Shark Tank; Maryam Brown, President SoCalGas

700 diverse business leaders from 33 states had the opportunity to learn about $400 billion  in federal procurement opportunities; special guest Daymond John

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) hosted 700 diverse business leaders from 33 states at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Justice and Equity’s second annual Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Connect Summit on April 17-18, at the company’s Energy Resource Center (ERC) in Downey.

The summit, being held for the first time on the West Coast, connected MBEs with the DOE and more than 40 other state and federal agencies, prime government contractors, financial institutions, private sector companies and nonprofit organizations for learning, business opportunities and over 1,900 unique business matchmaking sessions.

“We’re here today to advance a mission that is incredibly important to me, which is deepening the Department of Energy’s work with minority-owned businesses. It’s a top priority for two simple reasons: first, it’s a smart thing to do, and then, it’s the right thing to do. It’s of course

the smart thing because the clean energy transition is only going to succeed if it’s led by businesses like yours,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholmin a video message to conference attendees.

“We need your expertise, we need your creativity, and, above all, we need your drive. I think working more closely with minority-owned businesses is also the right thing to do because the incredible economic opportunity of clean energy doesn’t mean much unless it’s broadly shared.”

“Partnering with diverse suppliers benefits local economies and communities, strengthens the supply chain, and accelerates America’s clean energy transition,” said Scott Drury, chief executive officer of SoCalGas.

“Our commitment to supplier diversity not only boosts market competitiveness, but also

drives innovation.”

Connect Summit participants attended panels, workshops and matchmaking meetings designed to  create new businessrelationships between MBEs and the U.S. Department of


Among the attendees was Shalaya T. Morissette, chief of the Minority Business and Workforce Division in the DOE Office of Energy Justice and Equity. Other federal agencies attending include the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Labor, Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; NASA; the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; and the Small Business Administration. Summit discussions will center around $400 billion in federal contract opportunities available to MBEs.

The first day of the summit featured a fireside chat with Maryam Brown, president of SoCalGas, and Daymond John, CEO of the Shark Group, CEO and founder of FUBU, a presidential ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, and co-star of ABC’s Shark Tank, that focused on how businesses can make the right pitch to grow and amplify their brand.

Attendees also received a welcome from Vice President Kamala Harris, who sent a congratulatory letter  to summit attendees.

The DOE selected SoCalGas to host the summit because of the company’s leadership in diverse spending through its long-recognized Supplier Diversity Progam. In 2023, SoCalGas surpassed the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Supplier Diversity Program goal for the 31st straight year by working with 618 diverse firms and subcontractors with over $1 billion spent, amounting to 44% of the company’s total procurement with women, minority, disabled veteran, and LGBT-owned businesses. This achievement was reached through the company’s continuing efforts to help increase the pool of diverse suppliers through broad outreach and education.

SoCalGas’ ASPIRE 2045 sustainability strategy includes a goal of achieving 45% spending with diverse business enterprises by 2025 and a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the company’s operations and delivery of energy by 2045, as well as goals related to safety, diversity, equity and inclusion, and investment in underserved communities.

At the ERC, attendees toured SoCalGas’ H2 Innovation Experience, an innovative microgrid with the first clean hydrogen-powered microgrid and home model in North America. The ERC was also the first building in California to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “green building” recognition and is a model of advanced, energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive building technology.

The MBE Connect Summit included the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Los Angeles Minority Business Development Agency Center managed by the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE). Sponsors  included Primoris Service Corporation, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Hal Hayes Construction Inc., and E2 Consulting Engineers Inc.