Three Westside Trail businesses graduate from Emerging Leaders Initiative

Three Atlanta BeltLine businesses along the Westside Trail recently graduated from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Emerging Leaders Initiative. D’s Café and Catering owner Devotis Lee, affectionately known in the community as Ms. D, Melanie Wade, owner of Cultured South, the maker of Golda Kombucha, and Jeannette Katz, owner of Buenos Dias Café and La Bodega participated in the SBA Emerging Leaders 2019 class.

The SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative provides free entrepreneurship education and training for executives of small businesses that are potential job creators. In addition to nearly 100 hours of classroom time, participants are provided with the opportunity to work with a network of experienced coaches and mentors, attend specialized workshops, and develop connections with their peers, city leaders, and the financial community, in order to build sustainable businesses that promote economic development within their communities.

SBA Emerging Leaders Class 2019

“The SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative taught me to work on the business instead of in the business, how to still embrace who you are and really understand what it takes for you to get where you want to go,” shared Ms. D. “They taught me that building relationships and hard work, seeking contracts will allow me the consistency of revenue I need to employ those in the neighborhoods, in the communities, yet employ by structure, procedures, processes, and not just by heart.”

Ms. D, owner of D’s Café and Catering

“The program confirmed a lot of things that I have been doing, and I also learned plenty that I had no idea how to execute,” said Jeannette Katz. “I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet successful business owners from Metro Atlanta like Melanie Wade from Culture South and Ms. Devotis Lee from D’s Café and Catering.”

The Westside Trail business participants learned about the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative at an Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) Business Breakfast. Held each quarter, the breakfast for business leaders along the BeltLine is one of many opportunities organized by ABI’s Economic Development team to connect them to resource providers and partners like SBA. In addition to business engagement and private investment, the team also focuses on job-related product development that encourages economic inclusion and growth in commercial areas around the Atlanta BeltLine.

Jeannette and Ken Katz, owners of Buenos Dias Cafe and La Bodega.

When asked about what had attracted her to set up Cultured South on the Westside Trail, Melanie Wade explained, “We are a sustainable company looking to promote the healthy drink that is kombucha in our community and abroad! The BeltLine gives us that capability and allows people from other communities to access our one-of-a-kind taproom and brewery right along the BeltLine’s Westside Trail!”

woman poses with trophy and a can of kombucha in front of SBA banner
Melanie Wade, owner of Cultured South, at the SBA Emerging Leaders graduation.

Supporting businesses and fostering economic development on the BeltLine is an integral part of ABI’s goal of creating and preserving healthy and sustainable communities. Congratulations to Ms. D, Jeannette Katz, and Melanie Wade, glowing examples of Westside Trail entrepreneurship, for their recent accomplishment.

If you are a BeltLine Business and would like to connect with our Economic Development team, please contact business@atlbeltline.org.

Learn more about the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative .

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