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Las Vegas small businesses 'audition' for Super Bowl work


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Dozens of small and minority-owned businesses were at UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation Center Tuesday. They were there to pitch their businesses to the Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee and NFL Business Connect for an opportunity to work with NFL vendors ahead of Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas next February.

“Considering I didn’t have a pitch, nor prepared, I think it went okay,” said Elite Photography Group owner Camilla Sjodin. She took part in the Shark Tank-style interview process in hopes of landing additional work ahead of the Super Bowl. “A big part of what we do is corporate events, and I imagine around Super Bowl there's going to be a huge demand for event photographers,” she said. “And, even though I'm a small business I can expand in a second.”

“We want these suppliers to come in and give us their best pitch,” said B.J. Waymer, with NFL Business Connect. “Local diverse businesses are being given an opportunity to pitch their business to industry experts so that we can figure out what their skill sets are, and how those skill sets match the needs of NFL vendors who are going to come into town to bring the super bowl to life,” she added.

Also pitching a small business at Black Fire Innovation was Eric James, who owns Black Rose LLC, a multi-media company. “The Super Bowl is an international event,” said James. “To have that kind of exposure, the potential to be connected to the industry like that, it’s as a business owner what you work for. It's what you dream about and we're hoping to be a part of it.”

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According to Jeremy Aguero with Applied Analysis, a big reason the Super Bowl will have such a positive economic impact on Las Vegas can be traced back to the state legislature to build Allegiant Stadium. Aguero says the bill included a provision to create a database of small and minority-owned businesses to help with the stadium’s construction.

That database is now a financial Holy Grail which is being handed off to organizers of other major events and projects. “That economic footprint is not just game day. It is the business of sports, which is where our greatest opportunity is and it is it is phenomenal,” said Aguero. “Whether it's NBA Summer League, or whether it's Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, we’re doing it better here than anyone can do it anywhere else in the world.”

Aguero says as the business of sports explodes in Las Vegas, the small business community will have even more opportunities to reap the benefits of the economic impact generated by major events. “Every major sports franchise around the world is looking at Las Vegas right now. Major League Baseball has been in the news. There's no doubt that the A's have tremendous interest. NBA. Major League Soccer - all there,” he said.

According to Aguero, Las Vegas had already built the foundation to accommodate major sports events and major league teams during a time when the focus was on U.F.C., NASCAR, and National Finals Rodeo. Once the Vegas Golden Knights and Raiders arrived, the business of sports is about the future.

“We have this sort of evolutionary move right toward major league sports, football, hockey, those type of things and all these conversations that are coming up about what's next. That's what everybody wants to talk about today,” Aguero said. “They want to talk about - is it going to be baseball, is it going to be NBA, is going to be [major league] soccer? What's coming next to Las Vegas because we have this magic, right?”

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That magic, says Aguero is in massive tourism numbers that can fill stadiums with people who will come here to catch a game in between other endless entertainment options. “That's 40 million visitors. That's 150,000 hotel rooms,” he said. “That brings an element that other places just can't. It also makes things possible here.”

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