By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Marie Lusain-Daniels, owner of Canvas Event Center and Petal Pushers Florals and Rentals, LLC, was among more than 400 local businesses at the Birmingham CrossPlex Wednesday for the kickoff of the World of Opportunity program for the World Games 2021 Birmingham.
The program is a supplier diversity initiative which aims to connect certified, diverse Birmingham businesses to compete for opportunities with the World Games.
“I got exposure for both of the businesses,” Daniels said. “I’ve never been to a forum like this before so just letting people know that our venue is available for events for the Games itself and that we also provide services such as floral and decorating.
“The main thing is I got great contact information and also being able to connect with other business owners who are here for the same reason and purpose and building those connections and relationships.”
The World of Opportunity program was developed by The World Games 2021 Supplier Diversity Steering Committee, co-chaired by Marcus Lundy of Regions Bank and Glenda S. Thomas of Alabama Power and made up of officials from the city of Birmingham, local business leaders and community leaders.
The program offers local, small, minority-owned and women-owned organizations the chance to participate in city-wide business opportunities relating to the World Games 2021.
“This was the launch of our supplier diversity initiative for the World Games 2021 and it’s our program where we will matchmake needed goods and services with local, small business, minority and women-owned community to help them maximize opportunity around the games planning needs,” said DJ Mackovets, CEO of The World Games 2021. “One of the reasons cities want to host events like this are because of the economic impact, to make the opportunities available locally, not just spending money with folks from outside of the community.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the World Games is a “turning point” for the city.
“As excited as we are about hosting the World Games here in our city in two years, we’re equally excited about the World of Opportunity, a program designed to be an incredible turning point for our entire city,” said Woodfin.
The mayor said the program is patterned after the NFL Super Bowl’s model for diversity and inclusion which puts local entrepreneurs in a position to win business where the game is held.
“My administration has made a commitment to the support and development of women and minority-owned businesses,” Woodfin said. “The World of Opportunity program keeps that promise in the forefront.”
Charles Lawson, owner of L&O Greek Specialties based in Birmingham, said he learned valuable lessons that can help them compete for business for the World Games.
“I wanted to see what kind of opportunities there could be for my company . . . such as embroidery, t-shirts or polos or any kind of clothing apparel for the World Games. I learned there are a lot of opportunities for minorities and if we just fill out the paperwork and apply for the programs those opportunities will arise and we’ll get some calls and get some business hopefully.”
The event also included a panel discussion, “Creating a Legacy with Diverse Suppliers” with Chincie Mouton, Vice President of Community Engagement and Projects, Atlanta Host Committee; Glenda Thomas; and Tene Dolphin, Deputy Director for Business Diversity and Opportunity with the City of Birmingham and was moderated by Darlene Wilson, Managing Principal, Relay Accounting Management.
Dolphin said it is important for business owners to register early in order to compete for these opportunities.
“This is going to be a competitive process and so it is incumbent upon business owners to learn what is going to be required, how can they differentiate themselves from another business or how can they begin to partner with other businesses and join ventures but all of those things you’ve got to start thinking about today,” said Dolphin. “If you start later it may be too late so I’m really hoping that today starts the beginning of the pivot that businesses need to make in order to follow up on these opportunities.”
Mouton stressed the importance of building relationships early on and utilizing the different resources that are available. “I’m sure there are local women business councils and minority councils and all of these different avenues will have workshops and programs that will help you learn to respond to requests for proposals, learn how to communicate with different contractors and use best practices for business development,” said Mouton. “You have to get a head start and make sure you’re attending those types of events.”
Thomas added business owners should know the impact they want to make and know how to “showcase your company and what you do and to highlight what you’re doing for the World Games and for people around the world to look at you.”
The program also provided business direct access to work in a variety of categories including transportation, event production, security, promotional items, merchandise, sports equipment, food service, technology, printing, medical supplies, event equipment, waste removal and construction services.
The World Games also unveiled its supplier database, an online registration system developed by industry-leader CVM Solutions. The database allows local, diverse businesses to register and receive direct access to future opportunities to provide goods and services.