A MarketPlace for Small, Local Businesses Focused on Creating More Equitable Access to Commercial Space
BeltLine MarketPlace pilot program offers affordable commercial spaces for up to six small, local businesses with storefronts directly on the multi-use trail as ABI’s first small business incubator. The pilot program includes Minority Business Enterprises whose owners include Black men, women, veterans, families and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The program provides:
- an opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain immediate access to BeltLine foot traffic to launch a new product or existing businesses to test new products and services
- businesses from the Southside and Westside an opportunity to gain new markets and awareness on the Eastside for their brands
- business service support, with the ultimate goal of preparing entrepreneurs to launch their own brick-and-mortar business
The selected businesses were announced on July 11. Over July and August, architecturally-designed, artistic shipping containers were opened in a phased approach at two locations along the Westside and Eastside Trails, giving entrepreneurs direct access to the well-traveled BeltLine corridor.
BeltLine MarketPlace reinforces ABI’s work around developing and advancing commercial affordability strategies aimed at stabilizing, preserving and creating affordable spaces for legacy, small, local, and Minority Business Enterprises. BeltLine MarketPlace is one strategy targeted towards closing the wealth gap between Black-owned businesses and other minority- and white-owned businesses. According to a Prosperity Now report, the average Black-owned business in Atlanta is valued at $58,085, compared to $658,264 for white-owned businesses. This report cites that only four percent of Black-owned businesses in Atlanta have one or more paid employees. The latest Annual Business Survey data from U.S. Census Bureau shows that Black-owned businesses make up less than seven percent of all employer firms in metro Atlanta.
Studies have shown that some of the biggest barriers to success for Black entrepreneurs is access to capital, resources, and expertise; access to customers; and rising lease rates. BeltLine MarketPlace is removing these barriers by absorbing the cost of building out the space, by locating businesses directly on the Atlanta BeltLine, and providing affordable lease rates that are below market.
Potential businesses could include retail, soft goods, food-based, or arts-centered ventures. The selected businesses for 2022-2023 are listed under the “Featured Businesses” tab above.
Looking to the Future for Long-Term Change
BeltLine MarketPlace anticipates growing in scope to include businesses of all backgrounds and more locations around the Atlanta BeltLine loop, taking into account lessons learned from the pilot. Dedicated funding from the Kendeda Fund will enable scaling as part of the grant. Black-owned businesses experience greater barriers to entrepreneurial success than other minority- or white-owned businesses.
The BeltLine MarketPlace is part of ABI’s economic inclusion framework, which consists of four pillars: small business support, commercial district support, workforce development and commercial affordability. Through programs and activities that align with these pillars, ABI will spur inclusive economic growth for small, local, and Black- and brown-owned businesses around the corridor, contribute to wealth building for communities in ABI’s Equity Priority Areas, and drive further job creation through their growth and development.
“Entrepreneurs form the very soul of our city and one of the greatest barriers is access to commercially affordable space. This is especially true for Minority Business Enterprises, who face disproportionate challenges when starting and sustaining businesses. The launch of BeltLine MarketPlace’s custom-made containers are removing that barrier and upholding our commitment to communities while ensuring more equitable access to opportunities along the BeltLine.” — Clyde Higgs, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
Strong partnerships make things happen. BeltLine MarketPlace is a joint initiative of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and The Village Market. It is organized in alliance with Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and Atelier 7 Architects and made possible with the generous support of the Kendeda Fund.
2022 Inaugural Featured Businesses
The following businesses were selected to participate in the pilot year of BeltLine MarketPlace! They can be found on the Westside and Eastside Trails.
Please visit each business’ website for their hours of operation.
Cococakes by Coco
Kina Morgan wants everyone on the BeltLine to grab one of her custom cake slices, on the go. In business for six years, she will use the BeltLine MarketPlace location to “test our new concept of ‘build a chunk,’ which will allow a customer to select cake and a variety of toppings for a unique dessert experience.” The shop also sells whole cakes and has soft drinks, water, milk and coffee. She currently has one location.
On social @cococakesbycoco
Cococakes is located on the Eastside Trail under Freedom Parkway.
Good As Burgers
Cornoy Watkins’ is the CEO and creative genius behind Good As Burgers (GAB’S). His vision is to build a worldwide chain like McDonald’s – for vegans as a cook to order restaurant. “We create a fun and tasty way to make the plant-based lifestyle mainstream, saving the lives of hundreds of animals and reducing damage to our environment, one Good As Burger at a time.” In business for two years, the eatery offers all plant-based delicious menu including burgers, sloppy joe sliders, plus sides and desserts. GAB’S currently has 1 location and a food truck in Atlanta. He accredits much of his success thus far to his partners Talia Jones, Jevon Kinloch, Tionne Watkins, and his incredible team. Cornoy wants everyone passing through on the Beltline to stop by and remember “Be Better, EAT GAB’S”.
On social @goodasburgers
Good As Burgers is located on the Eastside Trail under Freedom Parkway.
Grady Baby Company & Apparel
Online apparel company founder Alexander Albritton says Grady Babies have changed the world, secured civil rights for all and achieved educational success. (“Grady baby” is a term for people born at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital.) From music moguls and superstars to world class athletes – many started as Grady Babies. “It’s our mission to spotlight and celebrate that greatness. The Grady Baby Brand represents the soul of Atlanta, the heartbeat of a culture, and you don’t have to be born at Grady to wear it,” he says. Known for the classic “We Full – Atlanta” t-shirt, the brand sells tees, hoodies, shorts, jogging suit sets and accessories and aims to become a national brand.
On social @gradybabyco
Grady Baby Company is located on the Eastside Trail under Freedom Parkway.
Lakeisha Jones wants to add visual interest to people’s space, one plant at a time. “I sell custom-made fabric plant pots.” She’s looking to expand into her first retail location selling plants and accessories. Currently only on Etsy, this will be her first physical location.
PinkPothos is located on the Westside Trail at 1089 Allene Avenue.
Urban Grind was created around the coffeehouse culture. Comfortable seating, music playing in the background, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee create a cozy environment that cultivates conversation, community, and creativity. Urban Grind is more than coffee, it’s a culture, a community curated by coffee.
Urban Grind is excited to be on the Beltline connecting people and building community one cup at a time. The menu includes coffee, tea, chai, smoothies, pastries and more.
On social @urbangrindatl
Urban Grind is currently located on the Westside Trail at 1089 Allene Avenue.