Newtown Macon And Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages Announce Winners Of Downtown Diversity Initiative

Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

In 2018, NewTown Macon and the Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages were awarded a grant from the Downtown Challenge Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia to launch an initiative to attract more African American business owners and customers to the urban core. Thursday, they announced the winners of the Downtown Diversity Initiative.

“Currently, 18% of downtown businesses are owned by African Americans,” said Josh Rogers, President and CEO of NewTown Macon. “This number does not reflect the diversity of our community as a whole. Thanks to the generous support of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and the leadership of Alex Habersham, the Downtown Diversity Initiative is one way we are working to create a more equitable and inclusive downtown.”

Twelve entrepreneurs attended a series of workshops led by experts from the local business community. Participants developed thoughtful business plans, learned effective marketing tools, and met with business mentors. Participants presented a pitch at the end of the series to be considered for a prize package worth $6,500 that included funds to subsidize rent and marketing efforts.

Alex Habersham, owner of the Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages located on DT Walton Sr. Way, approached NewTown Macon about leading this effort to attract more people of color to the urban core.

"It is very gratifying to see these individuals seize the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and provide needed services and products to downtown shoppers,” said Alex Habersham. “This project benefits not only the recipients but also enhances the viability and success of downtown Macon and demonstrates the real benefits of diversity downtown and throughout the entire community. The partnership between NewTown Macon, the resource partners, the Community Foundation, and The Macon Middle Georgia Black Pages and Resource Guide made it a measurably successful effort."

Winners of the Downtown Diversity Initiative include:

Beverly Pitts, Carbel Beauty Plus: a second location of Carbel's Beauty Supply on Pio Nono; Carbel's Beauty Plus will offer a range of beauty products and services

Darrin Ford, A Brooke Haven: upscale bar and lounge catering to downtown professionals; A Brooke Haven is slated to open at 401 Cherry Street in September

Nathalie Armand-Bradley, ModPunch: an interior design firm offering a range of services, including virtual design and organizing services

Brandon Woodford, Wizdum Clothing: a retail space for independent designers in middle Georgia and Woodford's own line of clothing and graphic design services

Arrkeicha Danzie, Good Boy Goodies: an all-natural dog treat wholesaler servicing clients throughout downtown Macon and Bibb County

Darrin Ford, winner of the Downtown Diversity Initiative, will open A Brook Haven, a lounge at 401 Cherry Street this fall. “I want to first thank Mr. Habersham, NewTown Macon, and all of the coaches and mentors that provided tools and resources to all of the entrepreneurs,” said Darrin Ford. “I think the Downtown Diversity Initiative is a great thing to help small business owners achieve their dreams of owning a business as well as creating opportunities specifically for minorities. I’m really excited about this new venture and I’m looking forward to being a part of all the positive changes happening downtown.”

Participants of the Downtown Diversity Initiative have been paired with business mentors to refine their business plans and concepts. Some participants are continuing to work with NewTown Macon to explore financing options for their business concept and potential downtown locations.