MACON, Ga. — 5 star business owners in Macon were awarded $5,000 today as winners of the Downtown Diversity Initiative.
With funding from Wells Fargo and in partnership with Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages, and NewTown Macon, thirteen people were able to go through a 10-week training and recruitment program specifically meant to attract more Black owned businesses to downtown.
Since the initiative launched in 2019, Black owned businesses in downtown have increased by 10% according to NewTown Macon.
The 2022 cohort of entrepreneurs pitched their ideas before a panel of judges and the five with the highest score were awarded on Tuesday,
NewTown Loans comes in at the end of the program and uses their experience in real-estate coaching, business coaching and finance to help these businesses grow.
“So together, it’s a set of tools to help diversify our downtown, to encourage great Black business ownership in downtown Macon, and hopefully that more of our community really sees themselves in downtown and wants to come out and enjoy downtown Macon,” Executive Director of NewTown loans Bethany Rogers said.
One of the winners, ShaBrea Duffy, is the mind behind a staffing agency called Perfect Party Solutions or Triple P.
The agency will educate, train and partner with local business owners to provide emergency staff for local clubs and lounges.
Duffy said that she was still in shock about being a winner.
“I wasn’t expecting it by any means but what I did know at the end of the DDI Institute was that I had a better idea than what I came into it with. Didn’t imagine that I would receive this much response from it and so many other people from different industries saying that ‘this is the solution we need,’” she said.
Duffy said that Black businesses can drive an economy if people are given the right access and resources to be on the same platforms to be competitive.
“It's super crucial to any economy, I also think it's crucial to breaking generational curses and I'm happy to be able to do that for me and my family and just hope that I can encourage more people to participate in things like DDI or the developers academy as well to be able to do the same for them and theirs,” she said.
Other winners include: Tedra Hustin with MJM Consolidates Services, Geleesa Denton with Manicured, Materra Drafts with Niche 385, and Dr. Anissa Jones and Deon Aiken with Total Fuze Apothecary.
By 2021, NewTown Macon hopes to increase the portion of Black-owned businesses from 18% to 30% and the net number of businesses from 45 to 53.