One Entrepreneur’s Journey to Super Bowl XLVIII

Here's how a small business owner landed a big game contract

It took her a year to get to the Super Bowl. But it was a year well spent.

Among all the many events leading up to this weekend’s Super Bowl XLVIII are a few organized by a Newark, New Jersey-based black-owned event management firm. “Our company has been contracted specifically to provide destination management services—the Super Bowl XLVIII Business Connect Leadership Gala and the Super Bowl XLVIII Playbook Series,” says Vanessa Whitehead, CEO of Global Organization and Planning Services L.L.C., an event planning and management company.

The contract was awarded as part of the Super Bowl Host Committee’s Business Connect Program.  Before landing the contract (which was awarded on a competitive basis), Global Organization and Planning Services had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be MBE/WBE certified as at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by minority or women group members. Additionally, the minority or women group members or individual must control the management and daily business operations.
  • Be established in the local region
  • Provide one or more of the products and services requested

Whitehead ensured that the company was registered with the Essex County Economic Development Corporation. “I received an email in the early part of 2013 from The Essex County Economic Development Corp. about a procurement opportunity for small businesses for Super Bowl XLVIII, to include services that our company offered,” explains Whitehead. “So I followed the instructions to register our company in the process, which started with first registering our company information, along with proof of MWBE certification, on the NYNJSuperBowl.com website for initial consideration.”

She was later invited to attend an initial information session about the procurement process at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) in Newark, where she and others learned specifics on what the Super Bowl Host Committee, NFL, and organizers were looking for by way of vendors.  After the  first submission to the Host Committee and attending the first session, her team was selected to continue in the process, and attended an invitation-only gathering of small businesses for the second information meeting at the PAC.  “Finally we received an RFP [request for proposal] from the NFL to provide destination management for the three Playbook Series workshops and submitted a proposal.”

Whitehead describes the contract as “extremely significant” to her firm. “Funny thing is, our company was exploring expanding our services into the entertainment arena for the past two to three years, and one of our event planners in Atlanta and I had spoken a few times about trying to get into the sports events arena,” she recalls. “So, getting this contract with the NFL put us in a position we had envisioned some years ago and hopefully will set us up for more contracts in this arena. We are ready!”

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