The latest additions to the Atlanta BeltLine are all about getting down to business.
The BeltLine MarketPlace is the city’s first small business incubator designed to support minority and women-owned businesses with access to both business coaching and crucial retail space along some of the most highly-trafficked walking areas in the city.
Business owners selected for the accelerator, which is run through The Village Market, will have unique storefront spaces – created inside modified shipping containers – at two locations on the BeltLine between July and November.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Eastside Beltline Trail underneath the Freedom Parkway Bridge Thursday afternoon introduced the community to the founders and was a variable “who’s who” of the Atlanta small business and entrepreneurial scene.
Speaking at the event, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said: “We hope projects like this will be something that changes everything for these small business owners. The pandemic put a spotlight on just how much work remains to be done when it comes to using entrepreneurship to lift and advance African American prosperity in Atlanta.”
A New Look At Small Business
According to a Prosperity Now report, the average Black-owned business in Atlanta is valued at just over $58,000, compared to over $658,000 for white-owned businesses in the city.
“That is not just a wealth gap…I call that a deep gulch,” said Mayor Dickens.
Clyde Higgs, President & CEO at Atlanta BeltLine Inc., said the pilot program with the MarketPlace is about creating sustainable, accessible solutions for businesses looking for space inside the city.
The pilot program received over 250 business applications in just 10 days, showcasing how great the need is for affordable, accessible retail space in the city.
The Kendeda Fund, Microsoft, Fiserv, and Google provided resources and tools for the founders to use while launching their businesses on the BeltLine.
The companies selected for this first cohort are several weeks into the accelerator portion of the program and will soon be open for business along the BeltLine.
“Accelerator is the key word…it’s been moving so fast,” Lakeisha Jones told Hypepotamus at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Jones is the founder of PinkPothos, a custom-made fabric plant pots store with a “boho modern chic” aesthetic. The company started as a side hustle before Jones applied for the accelerator.
Jones is joined by Not As Famous Cookie Company (founder Ashley Carlton), Grady Baby Company & Apparel (founder Alexander Albritton), Good As Burgers (founder Cornoy Watkins), and Cococakes by Coco (founder Kina Morgan) in the MarketPlace’s first cohort.
Those passing by both the Eastside and Westside trails will be able to shop, eat, and support these businesses when they officially open in the coming weeks.