Third Hornets Innovation Summit Presented By Bank Of America Now Open For Local Minority Businesses, Entrepreneurs

Applications Open Through February 6 For Chance To Receive $15,000 Investment 

January 17, 2023 – Hornets Sports & Entertainment (HSE) today announced that it is now accepting applications for the third Hornets Innovation Summit, an initiative created to support economic mobility in Charlotte. For the second consecutive year, Bank of America is the presenting partner of the program, which was originally launched in conjunction with HSE’s Social Justice Platform in 2021. The Hornets Innovation Summit Presented by Bank of America aims to increase social and financial capital for minority entrepreneurs and businesses that are at least 51% operated and controlled by minority group members (i.e., individuals who are at least 25% Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American) and located within 150 miles of Spectrum Center, with one applicant receiving a $15,000 investment from the Charlotte Hornets.

Applications are available now at hornets.com/innovation-summit and will close on Monday, February 6. Applicants that are selected to move on to Round 2 will have their one-minute pitch videos posted on hornets.com and social media outlets for fan voting. The finalists, which will be determined through a combination of fan voting and an internal selection committee, will then present their business and/or product live at Spectrum Center to a panel of experts in March. New this year, finalists will also be paired with a Bank of America mentor, who will provide guidance and support in advance of the live final pitch event.

“We’re excited to host our third annual Hornets Innovation Summit, and to again be working alongside Bank of America to propel local minority entrepreneurs and businesses forward,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “The Innovation Summit has become one of our favorite initiatives, and we look forward to seeing this year’s pitches and meeting some incredible people doing some incredible work within our community. Building on the success of the past two years, we’re especially proud that every applicant will receive upgraded complimentary business resources thanks to our friends at Bank of America and The Lonely Entrepreneur.”

“We are honored to again partner with the Charlotte Hornets, who are equally committed to improving the economic progress of minority small business owners,” said Bank of America Charlotte President Kieth Cockrell. “Supporting small businesses continues to be one of our key focus areas within our commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. This initiative aligns with that goal as we’re working to open doors – by providing access to an array of business resources and community leaders – for minority-led businesses and entrepreneurs.”

As part of the Hornets Innovation Summit, HSE is once again partnering with The Lonely Entrepreneur, a national nonprofit that provides current and aspiring entrepreneurs with knowledge, tools and support to grow businesses. Each applicant will receive one year of free access to the Lonely Entrepreneur Learning Community, and new this year, applicants will also receive an electronic toolkit with vital tips for entrepreneurs. Those who advance to the final round will also receive mentorship, coaching and educational opportunities from senior leaders at Bank of America and the Hornets.

The previous two winners of the Hornets Innovation Summit – Brandi Long’s product, the Jurse, and Elizabeth Escobar’s bilingual job platform, Hay Trabajo – have seen welcomed success. In 2021, Long experienced an 88 percent increase in sales of the Jurse, a convenient product that transitions from a jacket to a purse, or vice versa, in less than 30 seconds, as well as an increase of more than 150,000 percent in website visits, after winning the inaugural event. Last year, Hay Trabajo saw a 41 percent increase in subscribers to its platform and formed partnerships with more than a dozen new businesses and nonprofits, helping them to identify and hire Spanish-speaking or bilingual talent.