Many Black-owned businesses in Birmingham, Alabama, could use some extra support. REV Birmingham, an economic development nonprofit based there, is bringing back its Magic City Match initiative for a second year to give business owners what they need to succeed, connecting Black business owners with brick-and-mortar spaces to provide their companies a home.
The program provides support for businesses in three different stages of growth. REV Birmingham identifies those three stages as Stage 1 (Ready), for Black business owners who do not have a brick-and-mortar space, have been in business for at least a year, have generated verifiable revenue in the last year and is interested in a brick-and-mortar location in the Birmingham area in the next 6-24 months; Stage 2 (Open), for business owners who have a brick-and-mortar location, but need additional funding to open their businesses; and Stage 3 (Grow), for business owners with a brick-and-mortar space in Birmingham open for at least a year, can share two years of business tax returns, a business plan for the next three years, and a need for funding to achieve their goals.
Magic City Match aims to combat research that shows Black businesses in Birmingham need additional support.
“Birmingham has a high percentage of the population that is African American. We are not even in the top 50 cities in the United States of Black entrepreneurs. There are a number of organizations that are trying to address that specific issue,” Robert Emerick, REV Birmingham’s director of business growth, told WVTM.
Last year, more than 800 Black business owners applied for the inaugural cohort. An independent committee chose 25 applicants to participate in the program. IGNITE! Alabama, an organization that supports minority small business owners in Alabama, and Urban Impact Inc., a nonprofit committed to getting rid of challenges Black entrepreneurs face, partnered with REV Birmingham to fund the program.
Magic City Match’s 2024 cohort applications closed on Oct. 15 for the Ready and Grow stages. The website states that those in the Open stage may begin applying in February 2024.