A new project to showcase black-owned businesses in Louisville is underway.
The Louisville Urban League has created a permanent indoor and outdoor pop-up space at its sports and learning complex in West Louisville. The League will use the PNC Entrepreneur Plaza to support Black business owners by providing space to promote their services.
The square opened on Friday to celebrate National Black Affairs Month, an August initiative that began in 2004.
Sadiqa Reynolds, The League outgoing CEOsaid interested black entrepreneurs should apply to book space online through its Entrepreneurship Center.
“Where we can, every time we open the doors, we shine a light on black businesses. And we decide, who does it make sense to have here? This is, you know, the bookstore? Is it the coffee?… The more the community sees them, the more their activity increases,” Reynolds said.
Business owners will be able to market their services to guests at Sports Complex events, such as the upcoming 2023 ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships next February. This event is expected to attract 1,000 athletes and 2,000 spectators.
The League has previously worked with black business owners to set up pop-up services at the site before opening the plaza and dedicating space to this type of activity.
Ausha Hilliman runs Julee’s Mocha, a new cafe located at Nia Center in the Parkland neighborhood. She said she had previously promoted her business at the Sports and Learning Complex.
“They invite us in pretty quickly, and I’m always there to support and get my name out there,” said Hilliman, who noted cafes are rare in the West End.
Aaron Williams has also participated in former resort pop-ups. He owns Chicago’s Jerk Tacos, a restaurant across the street in the Russell neighborhood.
He said he wanted his work as a black business owner to help inspire the next generation.
“I think it’s important for young people to see minority-owned businesses, and it gives them something to look forward to and look forward to,” Williams said.
Last year, Mayor Greg Fischer’s office said 2.4% of businesses in Louisville were black-owned.
According to the Federal Reserve Consumer Finance Surveythe median net worth of Black American families was nearly eight times lower than the median net worth of white families in 2019, despite growing 33% since 2016.
This wealth gap affects business ownership ratesaccording to a report by the Brookings Institution, a centrist research and policy group.
The PNC Foundation funded Entrepreneur Plaza through a $1 million grant to the League last year to support business and workforce development at the Sports and Learning Complex.