NASCAR debuted its first "Business Series" Wednesday night, an effort to connect small-business owners with some of the sport's official partners.
Official NASCAR partners, such as Bank of America, Office Depot, Nationwide Insurance, Sprint and UPS, attended the inaugural event, held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and presented by Bank of America.
Each partner offered a session on what services and products they can offer to small businesses, such as banking, insurance, office supplies, telecommunications, shipping and logistics.
Speakers were a mix of successful business leaders and NASCAR entrepreneurs, such as former team owner and current ESPN racing analyst Ray Evernham; Jim Blasingame, president of the Small Business Network; and Bank of America Merrill Lynch executive John Daniels.
Some small businesses were invited because they already have relationships with one or more of the participating corporations.
But many were invited to engender business partnerships and networking, said NASCAR spokesman Chris Tropeano.
Tropeano says that what spectators now see on the track grew out of NASCAR's small-business roots.
"Many of our teams began with the support of local small-business owner sponsorships," Tropeano said.
Tropeano says the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events bring tens of millions of dollars to local and regional economies, much of which boosts local small businesses.
Wednesday's event was in conjunction with the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Saturday.
Expanding business network
The idea for the event was born of NASCAR's quarterly "NASCAR Fuel for Business" meetings, which bring together the official partners to network.
"It's great," said one attendee, David Willis, who 15 months ago started Kiddie Academy, a day care in the Blakeney area of south Charlotte.
"As a small-business owner, we're always so busy and preoccupied day and night," Willis said. "To step out and hear about other entrepreneurs, we don't get that much."
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