You’ve no doubt heard the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is heading to Minneapolis this weekend for the Final Four.
However, in all the March Madness, you may not have heard that the Metropolitan Council — in addition to delivering fans to the games on Metro Transit buses and light rail — has another connection with the college championship.
Elaine Ogilvie is the Small Business Program Supervisor for the Council’s Office of Equal Opportunity. For the last year, she’s been supporting the Final Four Local Organizing Committee’s procurement efforts in the Twin Cities by connecting them with underutilized small businesses. Underutilized firms are small businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities.
After working on the 2018 Super Bowl’s small business program, she knew she wanted to build on that experience and help the Final Four connect with underutilized firms when the Final Four team started organizing in Minneapolis.
With the support of Council leadership, Ogilvie lent her time and expertise to make sure the Final Four was successful in their diverse business program, both meeting the needs of the event and creating a connection and legacy for small businesses in our community.
Ogilvie met with the event team every week and helped find the right vendors for what the team needed. She helped establish a plan and vendor list for the Final Four’s diverse business program, and assisted with communications, producing materials, reporting, and vetting the vendors.
Ogilvie and the Final Four team connected with vendors and helped them prepare for the procurements. This work helped ensure transparency and accountability throughout the process.
Thanks to their efforts, a significant amount of work for this year’s Final Four — from construction to catering — was completed by local, underutilized, small businesses. For the Final Four Legacy Project — an upgrade to North Commons Park Community Center in north Minneapolis — 57% of the work was done by these businesses.
“These small businesses are so passionate about what they do,” said Ogilvie. “They can do the work. They can provide the service. They just need the opportunity.”
“This was an incredibly rewarding experience to work with the Final Four and be the voice that some of these small businesses need,” Ogilvie said. “When these large events come to town, they can embrace local businesses, which can in turn support their communities long after the event ends. Given the right support, this civic-economic cycle could be sustainable.”