Thought Leadership

Q3 Partner SolveIt Call: The Role That Professional Athletic Organizations Can Play In Economic Development

Each quarter Interise hosts a network “Partner SolveIt Call” where we gather all the partners and instructors in our network to discuss a chosen ‘mission moment’ and give an update of the work we are doing to support small businesses around the nation. In our last meeting, on August 10, 2021, the mission moment was focused around The role that professional athletic organizations can and should play in economic development. As such, we heard from two of our partners who have experience working with professional sports teams: Jerrianne Jackson, former Program Manager for the City of Charlotte’s AMP UP Charlotte program and Megan Crook, the Director of Advancement and External Affairs for Alt-Cap (Alternative Capital for Community Impact). Read on to learn more about their experiences in an interview with each of them. 

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A conversation with Jerrianne Jackson on AMP Up Charlotte’s partnership with the NBA:

How did your partnership come to be?

The City of Charlotte received a grant from Living Cities – City Accelerator to fund AMP UP Charlotte in 2018, a program to scale minority owned local businesses. The funding came after it was announced that the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was coming to Charlotte.

Collaborating with the NBA and Interise, Charlotte leveraged the event to help out minority businesses and launched AMP UP Charlotte, a training program to prepare minority-owned businesses for working as suppliers and vendors with the NBA during that week in February.

The city had recently run a disparity study that showed major inequities in contracting opportunities for minority owned businesses. It revealed that white women were being awarded 2x as much in city contracts than African-American business owners, and more than 5x as much as Hispanic-owned businesses. 

Through the partnership, AMP UP was able to offer mentoring and face time with NBA executives in hopes that the sports association and its teams would partner with local business owners. 

“The city was really impressed with the NBA’s commitment to our local minority-owned business and ways the league and the city could assure those businesses were connected to the opportunities available around All-Star weekend (…) The NBA said, ‘If you have any creative, out-of-the-box ideas for how we can engage our community, let us know.” 

And Charlotte did just that. 

How has your partnership impacted your organization? Your community?

As the City launched AMP UP, the NBA partnership helped build the corporate partnership model and assist with AMP UP recruitment efforts. It also gave AMP UP businesses the opportunity to learn about the NBAs procurement process and network with the NBAs supplier diversity team. 

What is something that surprised you as a result of your partnership?

The partnership provided a structure to continue including a corporate partnership with each AMP UP cohort. It was exciting that Charlotte’s anchor institutions were willing to partner on such an impactful program.  

What advice would you give another organization looking to establish a partnership of this type?

First, the organization must present a solid business case on why the partnership would be valuable to the sports institution and small businesses – you must communicate a win-win proposal. 

Second, when working with sports venues, small businesses should research how the venue procures its goods and services. The small businesses should connect with the venue’s procurement/purchasing office to understand how to submit a proposal and understand the necessary documents needed to work with the venue.

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A conversation with Megan Crook on Alt-Cap’s partnership with The Kansas City Chiefs: 

How did your partnership come to be?

Earlier this year, we were introduced to the Hunt Family Foundation through partners of the Kansas City Regional Small Business Relief + Recovery Loan Fund. Soon after, we partnered with the Hunt Family Foundation and Kansas City Chiefs to support scholarships for the 2021 cohort of NeXt Stage KC – our premier business development training program focused on assisting minority and women entrepreneurs expand their existing business and achieve new levels of growth.

How has your partnership impacted your organization? Your community?

The Hunt Family Foundation’s support of Minority-owned small business through AltCap’s NeXt Stage KC program is critical to equitable economic development in this region. We determined that professional athletes who want to support minority-owned small businesses, benefited from having a variety of options, using either social capital or financial resources, to help businesses grow and thrive. To us, being an intermediary between small businesses and Professional Athletic Organizations helps us connect the right resources to our business owners.  

 What is something that surprised you as a result of your partnership?

I can’t say that anything has been a surprise; however, something that excited me was when three of AltCap’s 2021 NeXt Stage KC program participants were featured in a video released by the Kansas City Chiefs highlighting the importance of supporting local Black-owned businesses in recognition of the federal Juneteenth holiday. The project featured three was one of several efforts AltCap and the Kansas City Chiefs are pursuing together to help foster and support a more inclusive economy. 

What advice would you give another organization looking to establish a partnership of this type?

Find the commonality between your work and the interests of the organization or its players. Be bold in your ideas.