Super Bowl LIII is coming to Atlanta in 2019. According to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, it will bring in $400M to metro Atlanta. If you have a small business, you have a chance to be a part of this monumental occasion. There’s a special program called the Super Bowl LIII Business Connect, which is the NFL’s Super Bowl and special event supplier diversity program.
Through Super Bowl LIII Business Connect, local business owners from diverse communities have the opportunity to compete for contracting opportunities that will be generated by Super Bowl LIII. Super Bowl LIII Business Connect focuses on creating networking, educational and other professional development opportunities for certified minority, woman, veteran and LGBT-owned businesses in the Atlanta area. B.J. Waymer serves as the leader of the NFL Business Connect program. She spoke with rolling out about her role and how small businesses can engage.
Tell me a little bit about your background?
I am a consultant for the National Football League. I have worked with the league for the last 15 years. I have done program development for the community relations department. I have been working with the Business Connect Program for the last four years. Prior to joining the NFL, I was the community relations director at the Carolina Panthers. And before that, I was a television reporter. So, I’ve got an interesting path leading me to Business Connect. But all of the jobs I’ve had in my career have certainly prepared me for who I am today.
Why is Super Bowl LIII Business Connect Important?
I believe that the NFL Business Connect program is important because it gives local diverse businesses in each market where we work an opportunity to compete for contracts. Typically, in any situation, contract groups come into town and they can work with anyone they choose. While, the NFL allows that, we aggressively encourage our contractors to work through the Business Connect programs so there is an opportunity for our contractors to meet the very talented and creative business owners in a local market and engage them in the procurement process.
What should business owners be mindful of when it comes to submitting their bid materials?
I think there are a couple of things we want local diverse vendors to be aware of. One, it is important that when you bid for something at Super Bowl you don’t get distracted by the size of the event or the celebrity of the event, and that you bid fairly and honestly. Our contractors come into the market very early and they understand exactly what the price structure is for any business line or production they need. It is important that everyone presents fairly and in as clean a format as they can and with specific information on what makes their business the best candidate for this contract. They need to get really specific about what their expertise is so that our contractors have an opportunity to really look at their RFP and judge it fairly.
Do you encourage collaboration of businesses when they are submitting?
We do, but one business really does need to take the lead role. If two or three businesses are going to get together to present a bid, then one needs to be the spokesperson for that group. They also need to say very clearly in their proposal that they are partnering with other businesses and why they are partnering – whether that is for capacity reasons so that they could do larger format work or whatever that case may be. The other thing that vendors need to understand is that for an event like the NFL Tailgate, which is a huge event for 7,000 guests just prior to the actual Super Bowl game, is that we would not expect a local vendor to come in and cater for 7,000 people. The contractor we work with is PPW, Party Planners West, and they do a tremendous job of creating teams. If they are doing the dessert team, one local vendor would not be asked to make 7,000 cookies or 7,000 cupcakes. They would be on a team with 15 other contractors who all get together and someone from PPW would lead them. They would come up with a dessert menu that allows each of the local vendors to showcase what their specialty item is and put a cohesive and attractive dessert menu together.
In terms of submissions, are you already looking over submissions? Does the earlier you submit give you a better chance?
The old term “the early bird gets the worm” is terribly appropriate. Even though there is a timeline for when certain types of contracts come through, you never know what the contractors will ask us for or when they will ask for it. We have contractors already in the market who are anxious to get started with their planning process and the sooner they can identify who they think will be a good candidate to work with the sooner they can submit their plans. Yes, we do already have contractors who are putting in those first requests for the bigger things like construction and cement barriers to secure the perimeter of the events. If you wait until the end of our enrollment process to put your name in the ring, there may already be 10 to 15 vendors in your business category who’ve already been submitted.
Are there still some openings for minority- and women-owned businesses?
Absolutely. The funny thing about this process we work on is, even though we know there is a timeline when contracts will most likely go to bid, there are always things that pop up. While there are contractors today, who are looking for vendors, those searches for vendors will continue until the day before the Super Bowl.
Applications and additional information about Super Bowl LIII Business Connect can be found at http://atlsuperbowl53.com/