Devils to begin accepting applications for ‘Buy Black’ program today

Program, part of HBSE’s $20M commitment to racial equity, will offer marketing, education opportunities as well as access to grants

The New Jersey Devils, in conjunction with the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, will begin accepting applications for the Devils Buy Black program, one of the key initiatives of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment’s $20 million commitment to racial equity.

The Devils Buy Black program logo. (New Jersey Devils)

The Devils Buy Black program was developed to promote local, Black-owned businesses and provide them with expert marketing consultation, advertising value, educational programs and additional tools to succeed, the organization said. Applying businesses will become eligible for other resources, such as grant opportunities, assistance accessing Paycheck Protection Program loans, networking events and future Devils business programs.

Interested companies can apply here, through Feb. 2.

David Gould, who serves as the chief diversity and impact officer for the Devils and HBSE, said the program’s aim is to elevate Black business owners and entrepreneurs in the region.

“The Devils Buy Black program is about celebrating all that Black businesses have to offer our region and connecting them with exposure and resources to which they may not have access,” he said. “Leveraging the Devils brand to help grow local, Black businesses is both our honor and a responsibility.”

Selected companies will receive the following:

  • Become an “official partner” of the Devils for the 2020-2021 season and receive valuable marketing assets across Devils platforms;
  • Work alongside the Devils’ partnership activation team and have access to the brand and creative team, content team and the Devils’ digital, research and analytics teams;
  • Undergo a company and brand analysis to identify targeted marketing needs. The Devils front office, working alongside the owners, will build a customized strategy and marketing plan to be executed unitizing Devils platforms and resources to help grow and sustain the local businesses;
  • Participate in education and development programs. Opportunities include an invitation to a speaker series featuring top industry executives, where companies will gain business insights.

While the strategy for each business will be determined based on its needs, Devils officials said the customized plans may include amplification across Devils platforms, including social media marketing, custom content produced by the Devils’ graphics team, professionally designed email marketing, website presence, in-game exposure at Devils home games, radio and broadcast advertisements and more.

All applying businesses will be invited to participate in education and development programs, as well as other Devils small business programs, including a partnership with Invest Newark, a local community nonprofit focused on supporting minority businesses and entrepreneurs, which will offer support applying for and accessing Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Invest Newark CEO Bernel Hall said his organization is committed to helping minority business owners in the city.

“Invest Newark is committed to helping thousands of Newark-based African American businesses thrive through the pandemic,” he said. “Whether it’s access to patient capital, MWBE certification opportunities or business-to-business contracts via our procurement portal, Invest Newark works hard to position small businesses for expansion.

“To that end, Invest Newark is excited to support the New Jersey Devils’ Buy Black Program. We believe that Newark-based African American businesses will greatly benefit from their marketing expertise and brand equity.”

The program hopes to level the playing field and bring equal opportunity — while acknowledging mistakes of the past.

“Black businesses contribute so much to our economy, culture and region — unfortunately, they are less prevalent, and they average less than a third of annual sales compared to white-owned businesses in our region,” he said. “It’s important we acknowledge past policies, such as lending discrimination and segregation, that have kept Black business owners from accessing the investment and customer base to help them grow and succeed.”