(BALTIMORE – February 3, 2022) – Downtown Partnership of Baltimore today announced an innovative new program to attract and support Black-owned retail businesses in Downtown Baltimore neighborhoods.
The Downtown BOOST (Black-Owned & Occupied Storefront Tenancy) Program: Presented by Fearless, will identify five Black-owned retail businesses and provide up to $50,000 in grant funding for capital and operating expenses. It is unique in that it benefits the new businesses it supports, and will fill retail space vacancies in Downtown, which have increased during COVID.
Businesses selected for BOOST will open a physical retail location at one of several available Downtown storefronts pre-identified by Downtown Partnership. The program also connects the businesses to a robust cohort of experts for technical, legal, accounting, and marketing advice.
“BOOST is designed to have a multiplier effect on the health and wealth of our city and its citizens,” said Downtown Partnership of Baltimore President, Shelonda Stokes. “Not only are we filling vacancies and making Downtown more walkable, we’re also being intentional about having a Downtown that reflect the demographics of our city.”
BOOST is presented by Fearless, the $40 million Black-owned technology company located in Downtown Baltimore. Founder and CEO, Delali Dzirasa, has long been committed to helping Black entrepreneurs and clearly sees the need for programs like BOOST.
“We have an opportunity to shift the narrative and create a culture that values Black businesses,” Dzirasa said. “BOOST provides capital and business tools to begin to overcome the systemic and structurally racist policies that have prevented Black people from building generational wealth for decades.”
“Increasing the number of successful Black-owned businesses is a goal of Baltimore Together – the City’s 5-year comprehensive economic development strategic plan currently being drafted,” said Colin Tarbert, President and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation. “The Baltimore Together interim report points out that Black-owned businesses are significantly unrepresented at only about 10% of all privately-held businesses with employees. Even more alarming Black-owned businesses only account for 4% of total revenue. BOOST will begin to change those figures.”
Detailed information about BOOST, including application eligibility, incentive information, and available retail locations will be available at: www.GoDowntownBaltimore.com
BOOST is Sponsored by Fearless and supported by BGE. It is also supported by the Baltimore Development Corporation, Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, the City of Baltimore Small Business Resource Center, Maryland Small Business Development Center, DLA Piper, the Greater Baltimore Urban League, and the T.Rowe Price Foundation.
Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is a non-profit corporation creating a more vibrant Downtown community for businesses, property owners, residents, and employees. Through its many initiatives, Downtown Partnership improves Downtown’s quality of life by increasing investment, retaining business, solving transportation challenges, improving parks and green space, and creating workforce development opportunities. For more than 30 years, these programs have been good for Downtown and good for Baltimore.
Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, www.GoDowntownBaltimore.com
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