Augusta Mall’s parent company invests $ 25 million in opening minority-owned businesses
AUGUSTA, Georgia (WJBF) – The empty windows of the Augusta shopping center will soon fill up. Brookfield Properties, the company that owns the mall, plans to invest $ 25 million in minority-owned businesses in Southeast malls over the next five years.
The program is called “Partner to Empower”. The Augusta branch of the program focuses on black entrepreneurs who dream of opening physical stores, but all minorities are encouraged to apply.
“The most interesting part of what we offer is not just funding. We are offering this four week workshop for retailers that will be facilitated by industry insiders, providing them with knowledge that many small businesses just don’t have, ”said Michelle Isabel, regional vice president of product development. Brookfield Properties business.
The application is open until June 18. Those who go through the interview round will present their business plan to a panel of Brookfield representatives, and those selected to open stores will continue to work with their industry experts.
“We have multiple points of contact throughout the year to make sure they’re following their business plan, to make sure they don’t fall into different traps,” Isabel said. “We want to make sure they have resources within the communities we serve in case they have questions about accounting, marketing, inventory control. So we plan to stay with them for at least the first year and then beyond. “
This year, the goal is to open 20 to 25 stores. The official opening dates will be on a case-by-case basis.
“We want to make sure they’re ready. That they are ready, ”said Isabel. “We don’t want to just open stores to open them. Our goal is to make sure that we work with retailers and that they are sustainable. “
She says the program will help close the wealth gap in black communities, and she tells me it’s one of the most important things she’s been a part of in her life.
“As more and more businesses open, more jobs will be created, and then as they grow and are able to pass their businesses on to their families, these business owners will create a generational wealth, ”Isabel said.
If you are not yet ready to apply, do not rush. The application will be brought back online every year for the next five years.
By 2025, Brookfield Properties hopes to help open 250 minority-owned businesses in Southeast malls.