Black entrepreneurs received grants for Macon businesses


Businesses in downtown Macon received $5,000 grants Wednesday from NewTown Macon and the Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages for the 2021 Downtown Diversity Initiative.

Alex Habersham, publisher of the Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages, said around 60 years ago, downtown Macon was called Black Wall Street.

“It’s absolutely mind blowing to witness how all businesses, particularly all of the African American businesses, succeeded downtown, and that’s the kind of vision that I have as of late to improving downtown to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion downtown and the vehicle to handle that is through economic development and business,” Habersham said.

The Downtown Diversity Initiative, a 10-week business training and recruitment program, is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Prince Foundation and the Bailey Family Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.

The 2021 program was the second round of the program created to attract more Black entrepreneurs and customers to downtown Macon, according to a news release from NewTown Macon. Only 18% of downtown businesses are owned by African Americans.

“When we started our small business lending work a few years ago, it became very quickly apparent that we needed to do more than make loans. We needed to coach folks on how to secure these loans and be successful in paying them back and ultimately grow their business,” said Bethany Rogers, executive director of NewTown Loans.

Five businesses won $5,000 grants that can be used to cover startup costs or expand their business. The winners are:

  • Felicia Kim, Latricia Gittens and Chris Gittens, of The Wonder Twinz
  • Erika Morgan and Trent Morgan, of Macon Homes & Construction
  • Patrice Bass, of Just Juicy
  • Tiffany Minter, of InstaMajic Photobooth
  • Sherrod Motley and Swati Motley, of Motley’s Community Store

Patrice Bass, owner of Just Juicy, said they were given a large amount of information during the program, and they learned from business owners with a lot of experience to help them navigate their own businesses. They also collaborated with other participants in the program to help grow their businesses and receive feedback on their ideas, she said.

“It means everything to a small business owner like myself who had a dream but I didn’t know what avenues to take. So I was able to gain a lot of confidence in my process and be able to articulate where I wanted to go as far as my business and I thank so much to NewTown Macon for creating this space to be able to thrive and grow,” she said.

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Jenna Eason creates serviceable news around culture, business and people who make a difference in the Macon community for The Telegraph. Jenna joined The Telegraph staff as a Peyton Anderson Fellow and multimedia reporter after graduating from Mercer University in May 2018 with a journalism degree and interning at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jenna has covered issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Middle Georgia elections and protests for the Middle Georgia community and Telegraph readers.
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