Macon, GA –NewTown Macon and the Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages will host the Downtown Diversity Initiative (DDI) this summer to attract more African American business owners to the urban core. Currently, 28% of downtown businesses are owned by African Americans, a statistic that does not reflect the demographics of Macon-Bibb County. The goal of the Initiative is to help entrepreneurs successfully scale their business idea or concept and grow the presence of BIPOC-owned ventures in Macon’s urban core.

“The Downtown Diversity Initiative reinforces NewTown Macon’s commitment to prioritize the success of local entrepreneurs of color,” said Lauren Marshall, Vice President for Community Development at NewTown Macon. “This program provides valuable business training and networking opportunities where BIPOC-owned businesses have the skills and confidence to launch or scale successful businesses. The impact of the program is evident by the increase in diverse business ownership downtown since the first DDI cohort in 2019, which creates a more inclusive downtown for the entire community.” 

The Downtown Diversity Initiative consists of six in-person meetings with a cohort of fellow entrepreneurs and self-paced online training. Participants will complete the core components of a business plan and deliver brief presentations to cultivate communication skills, confidence, and promotional skills as leaders of their venture. The program ends with a final pitch presentation before a panel of guest judges. Winners will be awarded a cash prize to set-up or expand their business concept in downtown Macon. The program is limited to 30 participants, and all interested entrepreneurs must complete the online application to be considered.

Materra Drafts, owner of Niche 385 and Recess in downtown Macon, participated in last year’s academy. Drafts was one of the five winners last year and has since received a loan from NewTown Macon to build out a kitchen in Niche 385 to expand her business. She reflected on her experience by saying, “I absolutely loved the Downtown Diversity Initiative. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet new and aspiring entrepreneurs, I learned to take conceptual business ideas, put them on paper, and execute them in a 5-minute pitch for investors. This class was fun and extremely educational. I highly recommend any aspiring entrepreneurs or existing business owners to enroll.”

Interested entrepreneurs of color can learn more and apply to participate at http://bit.ly/NewTownDDI. The deadline to apply is June 1, 2023. The in-person classes will take place June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, August 5, and August 19.

About NewTown Macon
We are an independent nonprofit that focuses on economic development and revitalizing Downtown Macon. We make it safe and beautiful and fun and affordable. And we keep it local. We are located at 555 Poplar Street, Macon, GA 31201 and can be reached at (478) 722-9909. For more information, please visit newtownmacon.com.

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