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Black woman-run incubator targets Md. for national program

Lakeysha Hallmon, founder and CEO of the Village Market, will bring the Elevated Cities program to Maryland. (File photo)

The Village Market (TVM) and its nonprofit arm, Our Village United (OVU), Monday announced the launch of its first cohort of the Elevated Cities national incubator program, targeting businesses in Maryland and nationwide.

In partnership with Mastercard’s “In Solidarity” initiative, the national program will focus on cities across the country, including locations in Maryland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New Orleans, New York City, Dayton, Ohio; Birmingham, Ala.; the District of Columbia and Virginia. The first cohort includes 125 Black-owned businesses across these cities and more.

Designed to provide opportunities for Black-owned businesses to scale for growth, Elevated Cities will provide selected businesses targeted capital grants, technical assistance, shared professional services and wellness support. Selected small businesses will be awarded grants ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. TVM and OVU will also be extending support to Black-owned businesses in Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Miami, Montgomery, Phoenix and Norristown, Pennsylvania through the program.

The first cohort of businesses will participate in a 12-week incubation period where they will receive access to $100,000 in grant opportunities, business development classes, mentorship programs and professional and technical support services. As a core tenet of the program, business owners are also connected with wellness support led by licensed wellness coaches and mental health practitioners.

Elevated Cities is the national expansion of OVU’s Elevate program, which works to provide wrap-around support for solopreneurs and micro businesses. Launched in 2021, Elevate has helped more than 250 Black-owned small businesses serving as a model for holistically addressing the barriers founders experience in operations, marketing, sales and funding.