The Village Market and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) recently announced the launch of BeltLine Marketplace. A part of the first ABI small business incubator, the BeltLine Marketplace will feature up to six local, Black-owned businesses with storefronts directly on the multi-use trail. Supported by a $750,000 grant courtesy of The Kendeda Fund, the pilot program provides affordable commercial opportunities.
The marketplace will showcase colorfully artistic shipping containers and food trucks placed alongside the Westside and Eastside Trails, with participating businesses gaining access to nearly 2 million visitors annually. As well as contributing fully constructed commercial spaces at an affordable rate, the ABI is partnering with The Village Market to deliver wrap-around services before, during and after the marketplace’s inaugural season.
“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, president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc, said. “Providing access to the well-traveled BeltLine corridor is one avenue to connect businesses with new economic opportunities.”
Uplifted by its signature phrase, “Support is a Verb,” The Village Marketplace forms partnerships with organizations such as the ABI to tackle racial wealth gap issues. According to a report published by Prosperity Now, Atlanta’s Black businesses are valued at $58,085 compared to Latinx companies at $457,877 and white businesses reporting a $658,264 value.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 92% of Black-owned businesses experienced financial challenges and reported only 43% receiving sufficient PPP funding to conduct business in comparison to white-owned firms, according to the Federal Reserve Bank.
“This collaboration 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,” Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, founder and CEO of The Village Market, said. “It’s imperative that local, Black-owned businesses can stay in the communities where they have always been – sharing in economic prosperity.”
Future businesses in the BeltLine Marketplace will showcase soft goods, retail, food and arts-centered ventures. Each business featured in the inaugural season will reside in one of the shipping containers or an adjacent food truck from early spring until the end of November. One business visitors can expect to see is Atelier 7, a Black-owned architectural design firm known for its leading expertise in modular systems, shipping container housing and pre-fab building systems for residential, adaptive reuse and bespoke mixed-use projects.
Learning from the knowledge gained during the pilot release, the BeltLine Marketplace is set to feature diverse businesses of varying backgrounds with added locations throughout the Atlanta BeltLine loop. With scaling courtesy of The Kendeda Fund, the marketplace will allow entrepreneurs to showcase and test products and services. Southside and Westside businesses will immediately gain access to the Eastside market, further exposing their brands and products and offering fresh amenities to residents.
For more information about the joint initiative between Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and The Village Marketplace, visit the project page.