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BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport grows its launch pad program

(Submitted photo)

Five local, minority-owned micro-retailers recently opened at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.  The new businesses are part of the innovative Launch Pad program, which provides unique opportunities for local entrepreneurs to start a retail business at BWI Marshall Airport.  The initiative also improves the shopping experience for travelers and offers an exciting way for passengers to support small Maryland businesses.

Starting and growing a small business is a challenging endeavor.  Now in its fifth year, the Launch Pad program was created to help reduce the barriers traditionally associated with starting a small business in the airport environment.  The airport and its concessions developer provide merchandising units, training, mentoring, signage, electrical set-up, and sales and marketing support with area business partners.  The strong package of business development tools is designed to help drive success for the emerging business owners.

“It’s inspiring to see small businesses take off at the airport,” said Ricky Smith, Executive Director of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.  “The Launch Pad program gives startups and small business owners an opportunity to not only share their products and services, but also their unique stories with a wider audience of airport travelers.  We’re excited to continue this program and bring more retail options to BWI Marshall passengers.”

The new micro-businesses openings follow an intense selection process and in-depth training.  The local entrepreneurs gain access to the large, successful concessions program at a reduced investment, and are offered the chance to operate their business in a world-class airport with millions of annual passengers.

The five businesses in the 2022 Launch Pad class include Everything Blings Boutique, Messy Buddha, and Plum Good on Concourse D, WELL TRVLD in the A/B food court area, and New Secrets Tea on Concourse B.  The shops offer a variety of stylish clothing and accessories, hand-crafted candles, exotic spices, custom apparel, and natural herbal teas.

The Launch Pad businesses are trained and mentored on managing a successful airport retail shop.  The micro-business owners are provided with the opportunity to enter the dynamic airport market on a short-term basis and grow their brand without the need for substantial startup capital and time to construct a full retail unit.  Candidates are selected from numerous small business applicants who compete for the opportunity.

“The Launch Pad initiative was created to ensure start-up businesses have access and opportunity with our successful airport retail program,” added Executive Director Smith.  “We are excited to bring new small, local operators to the airport to serve our customers.”

An important key objective of the food and retail program at BWI Marshall Airport is to ensure a diverse, inclusive program that offers excellent opportunities for small, disadvantaged businesses.  Launch Pad creates special opportunities for local entrepreneurs to jumpstart their small business in the large-scale airport retail environment.

Minority Business/Expanding Opportunities cover

Expanding Opportunities

This article is featured in the 2022 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses that was published on Sept. 23. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities or read the digital edition.

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