NFL’s Business Connect program involving metro Phoenix businesses in the Super Bowl

Feb 10, 2023, 4:35 AM

(KTAR News Photo/Luke Forstner)...

(KTAR News Photo/Luke Forstner)

(KTAR News Photo/Luke Forstner)

PHOENIX — There have been dozens of events in the weeks and months leading up to the Super Bowl in Glendale.

All have relied heavily on local businesses.

The NFL’s Business Connect program is part of every Super Bowl. It’s a way for the league to connect with the cities that host the biggest sporting event of the year.

Jennie Patel works with the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and said they received hundreds of applications.

“We selected over 220 local diverse businesses,” she explained. “’Diverse’ being woman-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses.”

All those businesses fill a lot of needs surrounding the big game.

“Essentially everything and everything that goes into putting on an event, [like] décor, food and beverage, and janitorial needs,” Patel said.

“At the tailgate, there are a ton of Business Connect suppliers. At the Super Bowl Experience at Hance Park, many of the food trucks out there are our Business Connect suppliers.”

One example is Wok This Way, a food truck owned by Kris Mill and her business partner/nephew Jake Lipovitch.

“We are the first zero-waste food truck in the state of Arizona,” she said, “[Serving] vegan and vegetarian Asian wok-style.”

The food truck started small through its founders’ shared love of cooking.

“Jake and I were doing pop-up restaurants, then we raised enough money and we bought a truck,” Mill recalled.

The Business Connect program gave small start-ups like Wok This Way a chance to grow.

BJ Waymer, who leads the Business Connect program for the NFL, explained part of the program’s mission is also business education.

“The whole objective of Business Connect is to make sure that the National Football League impacts the lives of the local business suppliers who live in any market we work in,” she said.

The program does this by offering resources to the participating businesses.

“We host workshops and do networking events,” Waymer said, “all making sure that they’re prepared to compete for business and will be successful in whatever contracts they’re awarded.”

Waymer believes this work will help businesses long after the Super Bowl leaves town.

“We have introduced our local diverse suppliers in the Business Connect program to procurement executives all over the city of Phoenix and Arizona,” she added.

“That means there could be ongoing contracts, because we’ve made a connection.”

Mill certainly thinks the program has helped Wok This Way.

“[At workshops] we would learn marketing and how to connect with the community,” she explained. “It was a way for us and other small businesses to connect and network, and a way for us to build our business. It’s priceless.”

Heather Lennon was also a new participant to the program, although she’s no stranger to small business.

“I’ve been a residential and commercial general contractor for 25 years,” she said. “I’m the owner of a variety of small businesses … and I specialize in retail and adaptive re-use of historic buildings.”

An example is Warehouse 215, an old linen and laundry building in downtown Phoenix that has been re-purposed as an event space. Warehouse 215 hosted multiple events put on the by the Super Bowl Host Committee.

Lennon said although she already has the business acumen, what the Business Connect program offers is important to the Valley’s business ecosystem.

“The wealth of knowledge that they provided to people was really amazing… it was really inspiring,” she said. “It’s lovely to see all of these small businesses getting what they deserve.”

Lennon added that she believes Business Connect will be meaningful to the participating small businesses for years to come.

“I think it shows you that, even if you are a small business, that you can compete with the larger companies,” she stressed. “It’s wonderful networking, and it’s great to see the community come together to help out small businesses.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A two-year-old girl nearly drowned on Saturday in Chandler. (Pexels photo)...

2-year-old ‘breathing and alert’ after nearly drowning in Chandler

Fire personnel were called to a near-drowning incident in Chandler involving a two-year-old girl on Saturday.

51 minutes ago

Exzavion Williams is in jail more than 15 months after a deadly shooting in Phoenix. (MCSO mugshot)...

Arrest made from February 2023 shooting that killed Phoenix teen

Detectives arrested a man for murder and armed robbery in a homicide case from last year, authorities said Saturday.

54 minutes ago

dual-branded hotel groundbreaking...

Damon Allred

Dual-branded hotel coming to Phoenix in 2025 breaks ground

Mayor Kate Gallego was among those present for the groundbreaking on Tuesday of a new dual-branded hotel coming soon to Phoenix.

2 hours ago

Two brothers were arrested weeks after a dead body was removed from a car that was on fire in a can...

Pair of brothers arrested weeks after a dead body was found in Phoenix canal

Detectives arrested a pair of brothers after a dead body was found in a car on fire last month in west Phoenix.

3 hours ago

A bear was killed by Arizona game officials after it injured a teenager in northern Arizona. (AZ Ga...

Associated Press

Bear shot dead by Arizona game officers after swipe attack on teen in mountain cabin

A black bear was shot and killed by Arizona fish and game officers after it entered a home through an open door and injured a teenager.

4 hours ago

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria will open a new location in Surprise this fall. (Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria)...

Chicago pizza chain Lou Malnati’s announces new Surprise location

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria will open its ninth Valley location this fall. The popular chain plans to open a new location in Surprise.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

NFL’s Business Connect program involving metro Phoenix businesses in the Super Bowl