The Super Bowl is not only the pinnacle of many an athlete's and a coach's career, but also some small business owners. The National Football League (NFL) has been striving to make this dream attainable to a larger group of businesses who wish to provide food and other services at the host stadium during the big game. The NFL established the Emerging Business Program in 1994 to give minority- and women-owned businesses the maximum opportunity to participate in the Super Bowl procurement process by providing them with the necessary information to win bids.

The responsibility of attracting and educating business owners falls to local Super Bowl Host Committees, which are established in hosting cities well before the games take place. The Host Committee disseminates the preliminary information through various local media outlets, like radio and TV ads, and then it is up to the business owners to take the next step.

According to Tisha Ford, manager of event business development for the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, small businesses must first register with certifying agencies to become eligible for Super Bowl vending bids. She says her team instructs small businesses to contact their resident Small Business Development Centers and their public school boards for certifying information.

Outreach programs, including workshops, begin 14-months before the game, Ford says. 'Workshops for the 2010 game were hosted [in 2009] that really focused on linking the small business owners to our Super Bowl purchasing entities, and to help align them with the right certifying local agencies.'

Of the nearly 2,000 local small businesses that participated in the 2010 Super Bowl vending procurement process, 548 businesses received bids, with food vendors accounting for the majority, says Ford.

Although this year's Super Bowl will take place February 7, the NFL has already been hard at work preparing for the 2011 Super Bowl, in Arlington, Texas. For just over a year, the North Texas XLV Super Bowl Host Committee has been working to get the local community involved in the procurement process. And, since the 2011 Super Bowl will be the first-ever held in this location, Arlington has been setting a new precedent in terms of interested businesses this early on, says Robbie Douglas, the North Texas XLV Super Bowl Host Committee's director of business development.

'To have over 1,000 businesses registered at this point in the game is really unheard of,' Douglas says. 'We're big here in Texas – we'll do everything big, and we'll have more registrants than any other Host Committee.'

The North Texas Host Committee held the first of its informational workshops for minority- and women-owned businesses in October 2009, and will host another on February 25, and the final workshop April 6. These sessions are meant to provide business owners with information related to insurance requirements, financing certification, and advice that will help them grow their business even after the 2011 Super Bowl, Douglas says. The online registration deadline to be a 2011 vender is March 31, 2010, and the certification deadline is May 31, 2010. The entire application and approval process can take up to seven months.

Renee Dutia, CEO and founder of Regali, Inc. is one business owner who has formed a relationship with the North Texas Host Committee to learn about the procurement process. She will be attending workshops, conferences and educational programs on behalf of her Richardson, Texas-based marketing company, and she is hoping a Super Bowl bid will open Regali to a global audience.

'[For the] long term, our relationship with a marquee client such as the North Texas Superbowl XLV Host committee offers us the chance to develop additional global opportunities,' Dutia says. 'This is an immediate opportunity to develop a global project in line with, and in tune with, our local community leaders.'