Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Office of Communications and Media Relations
100 Peachtree Street, NW, Suite 2300, Atlanta, GA 30303
Jenny Odom, Communications & Media Relations Manager, (404) 477-3659, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meghann Gibbons, Vice President of Communications & Media Relations, (404) 477-3549, email@example.com
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and its program partner The Village Market, supporting entrepreneurs with first-of-its-kind storefronts along the 22-mile loop
(Black PR Wire) The six local businesses chosen to be a part of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.’s inaugural - and much-anticipated - BeltLine MarketPlace incubator have signed lease extensions through the summer of 2023.
Announced in April, in partnership with The Village Market (TVM), the MarketPlace is a catalyst to provide new, affordable commercial opportunities along the multi-use trail.
From a vegan burger eatery to a brand apparel store, the selection of local businesses represents the heart and soul of Atlanta entrepreneurialism, with some aspiring to a first brick-and-mortar location and others aiming to become national brands. Four are food companies and two are soft-goods companies.
To help people explore each business, TVM and the BeltLine have launched the Passport program, in which shoppers can earn free merchandise and gift cards for shopping at the MarketPlace locations on the Eastside and the Westside Trails. Review the passport and rules here.
Each of the Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), whose owners include small, local, legacy and family-run businesses, will participate in the promotion, which will run through Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Jan. 16, 2023.
People can pick up the passports at each of the BeltLine MarketPlace businesses.
“We urge people to come try all of us out,” said Cassandra Ingram, owner of Urban Grind on the Westside. “We’re thrilled to be part of this program and hope people will put us on their itineraries as they shop and eat around Atlanta.”
BeltLine MarketPlace Addresses Commercial Affordability for Local Entrepreneurs
The MarketPlace incubator has been one of the economic development hallmarks of the BeltLine’s 2022 year.
The businesses are located in two commercial nodes on the Eastside and Westside Trails, housed in custom-made containers designed and fabricated for this purpose, developed by Black-owned architectural design firm Atelier 7. The commercial spaces give the entrepreneurs direct access to the BeltLine’s roughly two million annual visitors.
“One of the many reasons why Atlanta rises above the rest is that this is a city of possibilities—and the BeltLine MarketPlace pilot program encapsulates that reputation,” said Mayor Andre Dickens. “Building a small business is hard work, and I am pleased the City and our partners are able to provide this kind of support for the entrepreneurs who are truly the heart of Atlanta’s economy.”
Supported by a $750,000 grant from the Kendeda Fund, in collaboration with the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the pilot program reinforces the BeltLine’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.
“One of the greatest barriers for new business entrepreneurs is access to commercially affordable space. This is especially true for Minority Business Enterprises and entrepreneurs, who face disproportionate challenges when starting and sustaining businesses,” says Clyde Higgs, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “The 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, starting with six Minority Business Enterprises in this first year. We’re thrilled that we’ve renewed their leases through summer of 2023.”
The program received overwhelming interest from the local community, with 217 applications received over two weeks. The six selected businesses for the pilot year are below:
EASTSIDE TRAIL BELTLINE MARKETPLACE
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.
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 one location and a food truck in Atlanta. He accredits much of his success thus far to his partners Talia Jones, Jevon Kinloch, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, and his incredible team. Cornoy wants everyone passing through on the Beltline to stop by and remember “Be Better, EAT GAB’S.”
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.
WESTSIDE TRAIL BELTLINE MARKETPLACE
Founded by Ashley Carlton seven years ago, the cookie company now has one location and 12 employees. “We’re a gourmet cookie shop that specializes in scratch made cookies, artisan cookie sandwiches, handcrafted shakes and deep dish cookie skillets. We make a better cookie!” He hopes to grow the company into a national brand.
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 the web, this will be her first physical location.
Urban Grind’s founder Cassandra Ingram has run her successful coffee shop concept in Atlanta's West Midtown since 2007, embodying her company’s motto of “building community one cup at a time.” She’s now excited to expand and bring her “cozy” coffeehouse culture to BeltLine Marketplace. Urban Grind features a selection of specialty coffees and teas, sandwiches, cakes and pastries that Cassandra believes fuels her patrons daily to #keepgrinding. She also takes pride in Urban Grind’s reputation as a neighborhood gathering space that “cultivates conversation, creativity and a stronger, more inclusive community.”
On social @urbangrindatl
For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine MarketPlace, please visit www.beltline.org/marketplace.
Media Kit with background and pictures for all the BeltLine MarketPlace businesses here.
About Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.’s vision is to be the catalyst for making Atlanta a global beacon for equitable, inclusive, and sustainable city life. As one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs in the United States, the Atlanta BeltLine is building a more socially and economically resilient Atlanta with our partner organizations and host communities through job creation, inclusive transportation systems, affordable housing, and public spaces for all. For more information, please visit www.BeltLine.org.
About The Village Market
A community-driven economic vehicle, The Village Market, founded in 2016, steers a direct pipeline for Black-owned businesses’ economic growth and placement. With the opening of Village Retail – sub-company located at Ponce City Market – The Village Market has made a 6.3-million-dollar impact in the city of Atlanta through seasonal marketplaces, retail and campaigns. From theory to practice, The Village Market ensures that Black business owners are positioned for unmatched access and economic equality. For more information, please visit https://thevillagemarket.com/.