March 02, 2017 10:36 PM
The identities of next year's Super Bowl teams may be unknown, but the National Football League and Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee are already picking winners.
About 300 representatives from local businesses attended a workshop at North Central University just a few blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium. It was the first of several meetings designed to give local and diverse businesses the chance to compete for lucrative contracts with the league.
"They're going to get on a stage that's bigger than anything they've seen in their entire lives," said the host committee’s Alex Tittle.
The big game is expected to inject more than $400 million into Minnesota's economy. NFL officials say its Business Connect program is designed to focus on diversity.
"Our mission is minority, women, LGBT and disabled veteran businesses get an opportunity to compete for Super Bowl contracts," said BJ Waymer, of the Business Connect program. "No matter what the job is, we want to ensure that local, diverse businesses get an opportunity to compete."
Uzoma Obasi owns and operates Creative Mind Studios in St. Paul, and was working as a professional photographer at Thursday's workshop. Organizers say he's exactly the type of business owner they're hoping to attract.
"I enjoy capturing moments and telling that story in one shot," Obasi said.
"Those are businesses who have gotten the short end of the stick, so we want to try to push them forward," Tittle said.
Obasi said he wants to use the opportunity to not only give his young business a boost, but also show everyone why he loves Minnesota.
"That's what I'm looking forward to, is showing the world what we have to offer here," he said.
Minnesota businesses hoping to take part in the program have to meet several criteria, including having been in operation for at least three years. Just 350 businesses are eligible, so competition will be steep. The deadline to register is April 1.
Updated: March 02, 2017 10:36 PM
Created: March 02, 2017 09:53 PM
Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company