The World Games 2022 Birmingham (7–17 July 2022) will generate an estimated 256 million Dollars in economic impact. Through the World of Opportunity (WOO) programme local, small, minority, and women-owned businesses are given enhanced consideration as vendors to The Games. Kathy Boswell, Vice President - Community Engagement, leads the WOO programme. This initiative was established by the Birmingham Organizing Committee to intentionally attract and engage new and diverse business owners. In the IWGA interview of the month, Kathy Boswell explains the details and goals of the programme.
What is the World of Opportunity?
Kathy Boswell: The World of Opportunity programme connects local, diverse businesses in Birmingham and the greater metropolitan area to compete for opportunities to provide goods and services for The World Games 2022.
The programme provides direct access to future work in various categories. These categories include transportation, event production, security, signage, merchandise, equipment, food service, printing, fencing, waste removal, construction services, and more.
What is the idea behind it?
Kathy Boswell: First, we intend to provide minority, women-owned, small, and local businesses an opportunity to benefit from the economic impact of The World Games. Second, the programme creates a sustainable supplier diversity database. This will be part of the TWG 2022 legacy gift to the City of Birmingham. The database will become a resource for future events in Birmingham and the greater metropolitan area.
How many companies have already registered?
Kathy Boswell: We currently have over 1300 suppliers registered in the World of Opportunity Program.
Which industries are represented?
Kathy Boswell: There is a wide range of industries ranging from marketing, event planning, ecology, fencing, furniture, training, culinary, food trucks, security, promotional items, and more.
Are there any concrete deals already?
Kathy Boswell: Twelve contracts have been awarded through the WOO program. Of these, seven will be sourced all or in part by minority and/or women-owned businesses. One of these contracts brings into partnership LRY Media Group, led by Rashada LeRoy, as our Creative Director for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
What advantages do The World Games have from this project?
Kathy Boswell: The WOO programme has helped guide the engagement of minority, small and local businesses. It has been a way to hold us accountable in giving diverse suppliers a chance. The WOO programme has highlighted the need to re-think how a supplier is selected. So often, businesses use who they have “always used” instead of giving a diverse supplier a chance. Every vendor we select through the WOO program, will have access to the database for their own sourcing needs.
What do you mean by “re-think?
Kathy Boswell: To increase opportunities for diverse suppliers you must be willing to meet the capacity of the business. This may require us to consider the benefit of using more than one supplier. Where we are able to scale projects, vendors have the opportunity to bid on all or part of the work. For example, The Games will require various types of furniture, flooring, and tenting. Suppliers were encouraged to submit a bid for any portion of the work that met their capabilities. As a result, we were willing to segment our sport venues by size and location enabling us to award the business to two vendors instead of one. By applying a new way to think, we discovered a way to give diverse businesses a chance.
What is your biggest takeaway from the WOO Program?
Kathy Boswell: For minority businesses to have a chance, hiring organizations must have an intentional strategy that gives these business owners a valued seat at the table.
How will the WOO programme be showcased during The World Games 2022?
Kathy Boswell: Our database has revealed we have a large number of businesses that make novel products, goods, and foods. During The World Games 2022, we plan to host a “Merchants Market.” This marketplace will be home to some of our WOO vendors to showcase their goods and services. Spectators and visitors will have the opportunity to purchase unique items as a reminder of their visit to Birmingham, Alabama.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.