Atlanta is launching a new program to support Black-owned businesses in the city. Named Beltline MarketPlace, the project is a result of the partnership established between Atlanta Beltline Inc. and The Village Market. The program aims to provide affordable commercial opportunities for up to six local Black-owned businesses with storefronts directly on the multi-use trail.

Beltline MarketPlace is also providing fully built-out commercial spaces at an affordable rate. ABI is committed to a unique partnership with The Village Market to provide the entrepreneurs full wrap-around services before, during, and after the inaugural season from late spring/early summer to November 2022.

In order to make it possible, Beltline MarketPlace received a $750,000 grant from The Keneda Fund. This pilot program, which is part of ABI’s first small business incubator, will offer architecturally-designed, artistic shipping containers and food trucks will pop up in two locations along the Westside and Eastside Trails, allowing entrepreneurs direct access to the Atlanta BeltLine that attracts roughly two million annual visitors.

“With the 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 in a press release. “Providing access to the well-traveled BeltLine corridor is one avenue to connect businesses with new economic opportunities,” Higgs added.

With the motto “Support is a Verb,” The Village Market works to connect Black-owned businesses to dedicated community partners, aiming to deal with current racial wealth gap issues. With this goal in mind, BeltLine MarketPlace was designed as one strategy to narrow the wealth gap between Black-owned businesses and other minority and white-owned businesses.

“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. It’s imperative that local, Black-owned businesses can stay in the communities where they have always been – sharing in economic prosperity,” says Lakeysha Hallmon, Founder and CEO of The Village Market.

ABI and Village Market explain that Black-owned businesses could include retail, soft goods, food-based, or arts-centered ventures. They will run their business out of the containers or on an adjacent food truck pad seasonally from spring to the end of November.

The commercial spaces to be located in the area were designed by Atelier 7, a Black-owned architectural design firm specializing in shipping containers, modular systems, and pre-fab building systems for bespoke mixed-use, residential, and adaptive reuse projects.

According to the organizers, applications for the BeltLine MarketPlace are now open. Interested businesses should apply at Applications are due April 15, 2022.