Magic City Match Grant Program boosting Black-owned business bottom line
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The recipients of the inaugural Magic City Match program have been announced. The pilot program was designed specifically to help Black owned businesses. Over two dozen businesses earned thousands of dollars, but the grand prize winner is the owner of Oasis Family Birthing Center, Dr. Heather Skanes.
“I feel extremely blessed and I feel like this is basically divine confirmation. Like yes, keep going and do this and bring this to the women of Alabama,” said Dr. Skanes.
She will now expand her business to provide outpatient birthing services. That expansion is exactly why Prosper Birmingham, REV Birmingham, IGNITE! Alabama, and Urban Impact Inc. all worked together to create the Magic City Match program.
“We feel confident that these businesses are now equipped and prepared to go to the next level,” said IGNITE! Alabama’s Executive Director Torin Darling Brazzle.
One of those very businesses is Thrive Wellness Lounge. The business owner Tish Fletcher was given $25,000 for her business and she intends to move in to a brick and mortar establishment later this summer.
“There is a weight that has been lifted. I am now able to open a lot sooner. I am now able to prepay my lease. To have that stress lifted off of me to where I can really focus on creating products for my customers and stocking the shelves with great amazing products,” said Fletcher.
Not all the businesses are in the health field, but all of the owners are passionate. That includes Birmingham native and automobile enthusiast Cameron Crummie. He owns MDV Truck and SUV accessories and he believes the training he received as a grant winner will be just as critical as the money he won for his business.
“You don’t know what you’re doing and it is a scary road to go down but going through the eight weeks of this business academy, each week is something different about your business to learn. What is going to make it better? What is going to make it stronger,” said Crummie.
The tough questions are the ones organizers felt business owners needed to answer. Even start up companies.
“It really helped us develop the backend of our business. I feel like we’re so much further now that we have gone through the class,” said Urban Soul Cafe Co-Owner Jihaaya Muhammad,
Both Muhammad and Alexis Kimbrough believe the $25,000 will be vital in limiting their start up costs. They also believe programs like the Magic City Match are huge in helping Black owned businesses shine.
“I am so happy for these organizations, these companies and these businesses that are benefitting but we are just excited for what is to come next,” said Prosper Initiatives Director Dee Manyama.
These businesses will still have advisors helping them spend their grant allocations, that way these businesses stand a better chance at boosting bottom lines, for themselves and Birmingham.
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