Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens joined six Atlanta business owners Wednesday on the Atlanta BeltLine to launch a new trailside marketplace. The BeltLine Marketplace program will support Black owned businesses with storefronts on the east and westside BeltLine trails.

Mayor Andre Dickens said Black businesses in Atlanta are valued at just $60,000 compared to white and Latino businesses, which reach six-figure values on average.

“These numbers tell us this: We will not have wealth-building pathways if you don't have small Black businesses able to thrive in this city," Dickens said. "So therefore, something must change."

The pilot year has announced five of their six businesses: Pink Pothos, Not As Famous Cookie Company, Grady Baby Company & Apparel, Good As Burgers, and Cococakes by Coco. This first year of the program is focused on Black entrepreneurs to address the unique challenges they face when launching businesses.

Atlanta BeltLine CEO Clyde Higgs said finding affordable storefronts is one of the largest issues.

“The launch of the BeltLine Marketplace’s custom-made containers are removing that barrier and upholding out commitment to communities while ensuring more equitable access to opportunities along the BeltLine, starting with six minority business enterprises in this first year,” Higgs said.

More than 200 business owners applied for this first year. 64% said access to loans was preventing them from securing a physical location and 55% said monthly rent was too much for their current cash flow.

Following the pilot program, BeltLine Marketplace managers plan to expand the program to include businesses of all backgrounds and more locations on the BeltLine.