Arizona has proven itself to be the perfect place for entrepreneurship, and Hispanic citizens are a growing element of the business community. To recognize Hispanic entrepreneurship, the Phoenix Suns have launched “Los Suns Small Business MVP,” a program that recognizes Hispanic-owned small businesses in the state.
Through February 19th, Hispanic small business owners can apply to be recognized as a small business “MVP.” The winners will receive a VIP experience at a Suns game, where they will receive an all-inclusive suite, a pregame recognition ceremony, and a business spotlight at halftime.
According to the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 20 percent of Arizona’s small businesses are Hispanic-owned. Consequently, they play a significant role in growing the economy and creating new jobs. In fact, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses rose by almost 70 percent between 2007 and 2012 – the largest jump by any demographic group.
Phoenix Suns Chief Marketing Officer Matt Wright notes that the inspiration for the program stemmed from the presence of the Hispanic population in the state. Arizona’s population is 31 percent Hispanic, so they have comprised a major portion of the Suns’ fanbase from the very beginning.
“We partnered with Univision and identified what factors we thought were important. The first is the local employment: how many jobs are these companies creating for Arizona residents?” Wright said. “The second piece that we look at is how these businesses give back to their communities and how they’re helping local residents. The third one is innovation and competition. We’re always looking to see how businesses are separating themselves and what they are doing to innovate, so that plays a role too.”
In addition to the MVP program, the Suns have pursued multiple other ventures to recognize the Hispanic community. For example, the recently released Nike “City” jerseys feature “Los Suns” on the front, similar to their older Latin Nights uniforms. “It plays homage to the history of the Los Suns moniker in our community,” Wright said. “One of the things is when Nike came on to be the official jersey provider for the NBA, we had an opportunity to tell the story of what really resonated with our community. We thought that featuring Los Suns was a great way to do that.”
Last season, the Suns made history by being the first team to play consecutive games in Mexico City and are looking to return to Mexico. This season, the Suns also started to broadcast television games in Spanish for the first time in franchise history. Fox Arizona Plus has already featured two games in Spanish and will host two more on January 24th and March 21st.
For fans living in Phoenix, the Suns will have a Latin Night on March 1st and a Los Suns night on March 18th. For those that cannot attend the game, the organization has created a website and social media accounts where Spanish-speakers can follow the action.
Arizona’s roots stem from its Hispanic population, and the Phoenix Suns are recognizing that through their new small business MVP program.