Minority-owned businesses encouraged to compete for downtown Raleigh pop-up storefront

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the downtown Raleigh retail scene continues to grow, small business advocates want to make sure the city's rich diversity grows with it.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is partnering with Wake Tech Community College, calling on small business owners to apply for OPN on Martin.

Until July 26, Wake Tech's Entrepreneurship and Small Business Center is accepting applications, targeting woman and minority-owned businesses, to compete for one of two spaces in a six-month pop-up storefront at 17 E. Martin Street in downtown.

The space is already occupied by three other entrepreneurs with pop-up shops: Slice Pie Company, Doreen Tewksbury Studio, and SweetWater Ices.

"This is an opportunity to move into a storefront space, learn some lessons, expand your brand," said Bill King, president and CEO of the DRA. "And then, our hope would be after a few months of that, they'd be prepared to make the next step into a more permanent space."

For their six-month stint on Martin St., the businesses will pay rent below market value while continuing to get that one-on-one support from Wake Tech.

"We want to make sure they have a marketing plan," said Cherith Roberson, director of Wake Tech Small Business Center. "We want to make sure they know how to do financial forecasts and budget."

Wake Tech's Small Business Center uses tax dollars to offer confidential business counseling to any Wake County small business owner, but Roberson said OPN on Martin's focus on diversity is a unique opportunity.

"When you have inclusion, you see growth across the board," Roberson said. "Making sure that we have an inclusive and diverse downtown will help make sure that downtown remains the epic city center that it is right now."

OPN on Martin is slated to be open from August 1, 2019-January 31, 2020.
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