NBA Cares: For the Love of Basketball, Cities & Inclusive Economic Development

Posted on July 26, 2018

Right now w/ India Adams (LinkedIn)

What I’m Listening to: Hive Mind- The Internet

What I’m watching: Pose

What I’m doing: wedding planning

There are few things I love as much as basketball. I’ve loved the game since I first picked up a basketball in the early 90’s and played NBA Jamz on my Sega Genesis. My love for basketball grew as a player and as a fan as I watched the Pat Summit’s Tennessee Lady Vols during their golden era, Allen Iverson’s ankle breaking crossovers, and LeBron James’ dominance over the last 15 years. In the current national landscape, sports organizations like the NBA and NFL have been at the forefront of cultural and political issues. One of the organizations that has managed the complexity of  players’ perspectives, while increasing their bottom line and continuing to expand their brand globally, is the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The NBA is known for their community involvement through the NBA Cares campaign, but it was their recent partnership with the City of Charlotte Business Inclusion Program (AMP UP) that caught my attention. AMP UP is a training program to prepare minority-owned businesses for working as suppliers and vendors with the NBA during that week in February.
I knew the NBA cared about supporting youth in the community, but this collaboration makes a bolder statement. Public administrators should ponder – if the NBA cares about local procurement and inclusion, then shouldn’t we all? And more importantly, if the NBA can partner local government to make an equitable economic impact in the community, then shouldn’t other private companies to do the same.
As someone who worked in Community and Economic Development, my mind pivoted to the potential economic impact of the upcoming NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte. This past February, the 2018 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles generated an estimated $116 million for the local economy, a 36% increase in the economic impact from the last time the city hosted the event in 2011. AMP UP is an ideal opportunity for firms to scale up their business and leave a long-lasting impact on the community. After all Charlotte will still be home to the Hornets and will host other basketball tournaments, such as the CIAA. I have studied the power of anchor institution initiatives and seen firsthand examples such as the Cleveland Foundation Greater University Circle Initiative. The AMP UP collaboration made me reconsider the use of venues, arenas and major events as untapped potential for community wealth building through contracting with minority and women owned businesses.

True basketball fans will remember Allen Iverson’s infamous “practice” interview. Nearly 16 years later it remains iconic. In this instance, we should be discussing this unique collaboration between the NBA and City of Charlotte as a “best practice” to model in our communities. As a I watch the All-Star game this year, I’ll be sure to share this connection about how one local government and the NBA partnered off the court to promote inclusion, create economic opportunities and positively impact the community. Kudos to the City of Charlotte and the NBA, for truly caring.

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