Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee members Varsoovia Fernandez, left, Angela Val, Kevin Washo, Tiffany Newmuis and Anna Adams-Sarthou attended a meeting.

— Photo by Abdul R. Sulayman/Chief Tribune Photographer

With A little more than two months remaining before the 2016 Democratic National Convention touches down in Philadelphia, the local host committee is shifting its focus to ensure at least a 30 percent minority vendor participation rate is met.

The committee created a database of minority vendors that will be made available to the public after the party’s nomination conference meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention and the Wells Fargo centers. It would match individuals, nonprofits and businesses to the listed vendors for future events.

“We have over 2,000 vendors in our vendor registry,” said Tiffany Newmuis, the director of diversity and community engagement for the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention.

“We do actually contract and spend with the vendors that are in our registry,” she added. “This directory was created so that when folks and companies come in, they also have access to the local and regional businesses, all in one place.

“Thirty percent of those are diverse vendors, and we have been advertising it. It is forward–facing on our website,” Newmuis said about the directory, which is accessible at

The nonprofit’s executive director, Kevin Washo, says diversity is a strong driver as the committee selects vendors.

“I think the diversity inclusion aspect of the convention, in terms of the host committee and what we brought to the table, has really been second–to–none,” Washo said during a recent meeting with the Tribune’s editorial board. “I think the diversity inclusion aspect of this host committee has been really ingrained in our DNA from the very outset.”

The Democratic convention, which will run from July 25 to 28, is expected to generate $300 million in economic activity in the Philadelphia region, and the host committee wants to make sure minority vendors, contractors and subcontractors are getting a piece of that pie.

As an example of the committee’s focus on inclusion, it recently selected Impact Dimensions as its official merchandise provider and manager. The Philadelphia–based company has been in business for 15 years and is managed by president Luis Liceaga and chief operating officer Norbert McGettigan Jr.

“Impact Dimensions’ proven record handling large-scale projects make this a great partnership to offer host committee merchandise, which will serve as mementos from this summer’s historic event,” Washo said. “Since day one, we have been committed to working with diverse, local companies to help us put on the convention, and I’m thrilled Impact Dimensions will help us provide keepsakes to Philadelphians and convention visitors alike.”

The hiring of LeapStarr Productions, a minority-owned event design, fabrication and production company, also fulfills the diversity goal. The company, based in Moorestown, N.J., will provide services for PoliticalFest, an interactive exhibit being held during the Democratic convention.

“PoliticalFest will be a memorable way for the public to be part of the convention fun in town and LeapStarr’s experience producing unique events make it a good fit to help ensure PoliticalFest is a success,” Washo said. “LeapStarr will help the host committee fulfill its goal of working with regional businesses while making this the most diverse convention yet, and we look forward to putting on PoliticalFest with them.”

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