NFL seeks LGBT-owned businesses for Super Bowl LV

ABOVE: Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Business Connect gear, photo courtesy Super Bowl LV Business Connect.

TAMPA | The NFL is seeking LGBT and other minority-owned businesses for contracting opportunities during and after Super Bowl LV, touching down in Tampa Feb. 7, 2021.

The league’s Business Connect program is a partnership between the NFL and its Super Bowl LV Host Committee. The initiative will provide participants with development opportunities and create opportunities for 200-300 diverse, local businesses to compete for Super Bowl contracts.

“The Super Bowl LV Business Connect program is designed to leave a lasting impact and legacy in our community,” Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee COO Claire Lessinger announced in November. “We look forward to working in tandem with the NFL in helping provide an incredible professional development experience and opportunity to our local diverse businesses.”

“The Business Connect program plays an important role in embedding the local, diverse business community into the heart of the Super Bowl,” NFL Executive Vice President of Club Business and League Events Peter O’Reilly added. “The contract and networking opportunities created through the program will hopefully have a meaningful impact on the capacity of the local diverse businesses of Tampa Bay well beyond the Super Bowl in 2021.”

The program is led by Business Connect & Community Outreach Director LaKendria Robinson, a longtime advocate for undeserved communities. Among other efforts, she created the Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce’s minority business accelerator program.

“It’s been great,” Robinson says of spearheading Business Connect. “Very familiar. The NFL has made it a top priority to engage leadership in every Super Bowl host city to make sure that this is a signature program. They’ve had really great success and expanded it to include women-, veteran- and LGBT-owned businesses because they make up a large population – not only of individuals, but businesses that are coming online in various markets.”

The Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV social media channels shared a video highlighting an informative session held for Business Connect on Dec. 5, seen below. Robinson notes she is also available for further sessions.

To qualify for the program, businesses must be the direct source of at least one of the more than 30 goods and services requested by NFL contractors. They must have operated a physical office in Hillsborough, Pinellas and/or Pasco counties since at least Jan. 2017 and at a minimum, be 51% owned by a member of the LGBT community, a woman, a veteran or another minority.

Certification as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women-Owned Business (WMBE), Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) or LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) is also required. Businesses must be certified by the appropriate certifying bodies, including the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, of which the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce is a local affiliate.

“I love working with the local chambers,” Robinson says. “As a previous chamber employee myself, I understand the value that they bring to our community. Fortunately, we have quite a few chambers in the tri-county area and they all focus on very specific niches. It really gives us a unique advantage to make sure that we’re touching each of those niche markets and those areas, like with our local Diversity Chamber.”

Businesses do not need to be certified in order to apply to the program, though they must be certified to be accepted. Robinson says Business Connect leadership will even help expedite the process. “We have really good partnerships with our local certifying agencies,” she says. “I would encourage every business to apply. We can help them through the entire process.”

LGBT-owned businesses can apply for the Business Connect program until Feb. 14. To apply, learn about scheduling an information session or for more information, click here. For more information about becoming LGBTBE certified with the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber, visit their website.

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