ATLANTA — The Atlanta BeltLine will begin a new initiative to boost Black-owned businesses by bringing small storefronts directly to the trail.
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI), the organization that oversees and operates the BeltLine, described it as its "first small business incubator." It will first be extended to six businesses.
The program is being funded in part through a $750,000 grant from the Kendeda Fund, an Atlanta-based family foundation that focuses on community initiatives. It is also being done in partnership with The Village Market, an incubator for Black-owned businesses.
The storefronts - described as "architecturally-designed, artistic shipping containers" as well as potential food trucks - will be set up at two locations, one on the Westside trail and one on the Eastside trail. The storefront space will not be free for the businesses, but will come "at an affordable rate" ABI said in a release.
The inaugural period for the storefronts is planned for late spring/early summer to November this year, the release said.
“With new funding, ABI is developing and advancing commercial affordability strategies aimed at stabilizing, preserving, and creating affordable spaces so that Black-owned, legacy, small, and local business can grow and flourish around the 22-mile loop,” Clyde Higgs, the ABI president and CEO, said in a statement. “Providing access to the well-traveled BeltLine corridor is one avenue to connect businesses with new economic opportunities.”
The Village Market Founder and CEO Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon said the collaborative effort "ensures economic mobility, accessibility, and a progressive way forward as the BeltLine begins to nurture relationships with local, independently owned, Black-owned businesses that have been displaced due to the surge in commercial rents. It’s imperative that local, Black-owned businesses can stay in the communities where they have always been – sharing in economic prosperity."