Office to support local small businesses seeking to expand in the BeltLine Planning Area with a prioritization for minority-owned business enterprises
ATLANTA (July 19, 2023) – Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. is launching the first‐of-its‐kind BeltLine Business Solutions Office. The office will support local small businesses seeking to expand along the 22-mile loop through tailored solutions, including a free small business accelerator.
“The Atlanta BeltLine is a project for the people, and helping local, small businesses succeed is one of our top priorities,” said Clyde Higgs, President and CEO, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “The goal of this office is to fill market gaps and meet community needs for business support, especially in underserved areas.”
The BeltLine Business Solutions Office will leverage existing programs and services in Atlanta that focus on local small business expansion. During the application process for BeltLine MarketPlace, a program that places businesses in containers along the trails, entrepreneurs identified the Atlanta BeltLine as their top destination to locate their small business.
Businesses can receive assistance through three distinct offerings:
- BeltLine Business Ventures: A free small business accelerator, consisting of curriculum-based expansion readiness training. The program will have three cohorts taking place in Fall 2023, Winter/Spring 2024, and Summer/Fall 2024. Each cohort, managed by The Center by Lendistry and led by CVM Worldwide, will offer sessions on various topics, one-on-one business advising, peer-learning and networking opportunities, and a pitch competition.
- Direct One-on-One Assistance: Businesses can work with BeltLine team members or partners to determine the best strategies for successfully scaling their business.
- Partner Referral Network: Access to partner organizations who specialize in services like accessing capital through small business loans or grants.
Business owners interested in applying for BeltLine Business Ventures can register for an information session at beltline.org/businessventures. The deadline for applications for the first cohort is August 18th.
“As a champion of equitable economic development, The Center is excited to partner with the BeltLine to help ensure that this revitalization effort is inclusive for local diverse businesses,” said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, President and CEO of The Center by Lendistry. “We know that with the right support and access to resources, small businesses thrive. We look forward to working with local entrepreneurs and preparing them for long-term success along the BeltLine.”
“From growing my business over the past decade in Atlanta to helping over 1,500 minority-owned businesses grow, I’m honored to bring my experience and expertise to the BeltLine Business Ventures accelerator. There is tremendous potential for economic transformation by bringing marketplace awareness to the BeltLine along with thriving businesses that help meet the needs of local neighborhoods,” said Candace Mitchell Harris, Executive Director, CVM Worldwide.
While the office will serve small businesses in the entire BeltLine Planning Area, minority-owned enterprises in the west and southwest quadrants will be prioritized to ensure equitable opportunities for business owners who are often marginalized or lack critical access to resources for growth, but want to take advantage of the unprecedented economic opportunity of the most wide-ranging urban redevelopment effort currently underway in the United States. The Equity Priority Subareas are being prioritized to address disparities and stubborn structural inequities that have existed for generations.
In addition to entrepreneurship, variables such as unemployment rates, average family income, and transportation use were utilized to highlight economic needs in the communities as well as clear instances of inequity.
In Atlanta, the median household income for a white family is $83,722 compared to just $28,105 for a Black family. The inequities continue for Black entrepreneurs in the city where the average African American-owned business is valued at $58,085, nearly 11 times less than the average value of a white-owned business at $658,264. The obstacles that minority business owners face are deeply-rooted in racially discriminatory lending practices. Expanding access to resources for those who need it most will aid in Atlanta’s economic recovery and ensure an equitable and prosperous future for all Atlantans.
The BeltLine Business Solutions Office is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). This two-year grant is funded by EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, and the project will deliver tailored services to help small businesses stabilize, recover, and build resiliency in response to COVID-19 impacts and in anticipation of future disruptions. With two dedicated staff members, the BeltLine Business Solutions Office will operate with a hybrid model: both virtually and at partner sites. After the two-year period, the Atlanta BeltLine is projected to have enough funds to support the office fully.
“Small and local businesses are the backbone of thriving regional economies. EDA is proud to support programs like the BeltLine Business Solutions Office as they create new jobs, strengthen supply chains, and enrich communities in Atlanta—and across America,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “EDA’s investments in programs that support entrepreneurs is critical to the success of the President’s bottom-up, middle-out Investing in America agenda.”
Atlanta BeltLine’s Natalie Jones, an economic development project manager, is leading the BeltLine Business Solutions Office.
“The BeltLine Business Solutions Office is part of the BeltLine’s economic inclusion framework, which consists of five pillars: small business support, commercial revitalization, workforce development, commercial affordability and digital inclusion and innovation,” Jones said. “Through programs and activities that align with these pillars, the BeltLine aims to spur inclusive economic growth for small, local, minority-owned businesses around the corridor, contributing to wealth building for communities in the BeltLine’s Equity Priority Subareas, and driving further job creation through their growth and development.”
The office builds on existing programs that focus on small business support including the Façade Improvement pARTnership Grant and the BeltLine Marketplace.
For more information on the BeltLine Business Solutions Office and BeltLine Business Ventures, please visit beltline.org/businessventures or email BeltLineVentures@atlbeltline.org.
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About Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.’s vision is to be the catalyst for making Atlanta a global beacon for equitable, inclusive, and sustainable city life. As one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs in the United States, the Atlanta BeltLine is building a more socially and economically resilient Atlanta with our partner organizations and host communities through job creation, inclusive transportation systems, affordable housing, and public spaces for all. For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, please visit www.beltline.org.
The Center by Lendistry is a national nonprofit organization that supports diverse small businesses through education, technical assistance, and access to competitive financing. We are committed to closing the racial wealth gap and accelerating economic development by anchoring small businesses and the communities where they do business. Learn more at www.thecenterbylendistry.org.
CVM Worldwide is an Atlanta-based, technology-focused social enterprise that tackles the world’s toughest problems by creating and investing in people, products, and initiatives that improve the human experience. Our mission is to provide business expertise and technical talent to help entrepreneurs build profitable and impactful businesses that transform the world. For more information, visit www.cvmworldwide.com.
Jenny Odom, Communications & Media Relations Manager, (404) 477-3659, email@example.com
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Office of Communications and Media Relations
100 Peachtree Street, NW, Suite 2300, Atlanta, GA 30303