Sweets & Meats Owner Wins Award At A Bittersweet Time

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Earlier this week Bailey was honored as 2018 Client of the Year by SCORE’s Greater Cincinnati chapter. The award came with a $3,000 prize.

SCORE is the volunteer arm of the Small Business Administration. Its 100-plus mentors provide no-cost mentoring and low-cost small business workshops for entrepreneurs.

Bailey’s mentor, Mike Mulligan, provided critical support. He helped her develop a business plan, hire staff, and secure financing for their various business ventures.

Mulligan offered a wealth of knowledge, Bailey said. He’s a great mentor, sounding board, and sometimes therapist, she said.

Honored to receive the SCORE award, it was a bittersweet moment for Bailey. Just four weeks earlier her mom, Michelle Bailey, died unexpectedly.

During the awards ceremony, the chair next to Bailey, where her mom would have sat, was empty. A poignant reminder of her loss.

Bailey’s mom played a critical role in the Sweets & Meats success story. She and others, including Gaffney’s friend Nedra Lang, volunteered many hours helping the business grow. Lang is now assistant manager at Sweets & Meats.

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MORTAR’s entrepreneur training helps longtime residents ride the wave of revitalization

Reading Time: 1 minute MORTAR accepts 12 to 15 people into each of its six yearly training classes, all of which are 14 weeks long. When students begin the program, they generally have one emotion.

“They’re usually very scared,” said Woods, MORTAR’s managing partner and creative director. “For most of our participants, based on their background, they’ve been told ‘no’ for so long, they’ve been taught to believe that everything is impossible. It’s often the first time they’ve been around people who have that spirit of affirmation, that they can accomplish these things, while holding them accountable.”

The class helps students understand business basics. It costs just $250, and MORTAR offers payment plans for students who can’t afford the entire fee upfront. The budding entrepreneurs get help refining their ideas and are assigned mentors to guide them through the class.

“There’s more to make a successful business,” Braziel said. “A network, legal help, mentors — that’s the special sauce of MORTAR.”

Graduates go into the alumni program, which provides further support, including business mentors, networking opportunities, access to business funding, pop-up store space to showcase goods and services, and legal help.

What MORTAR has done is leverage relationships in a way that helps more than just the individual graduates; it helps revitalize their neighborhood.

“One of the major connections has been the prominence of MORTAR as a change agent within the community,” said Bradley, MORTAR’s strategic director. MORTAR has forged so many connections it’s now a big part of Cincinnati’s fabric.

“The ties politically and socially, grant-making operations — it’s bringing everyone together in support of this cause,” Bradley said. “I’ve lived here 30 years, and I’ve not seen an organization that has been able to galvanize this kind of support.”

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Coffee shop with a creative, hip-hop twist set to open Downtown

Reading Time: 1 minute CINCINNATI — Means Cameron believes that most good things happen in coffee shops.

“People sit down, have a cup a coffee and usually the talks are really genuine,” Cameron said.

The 28-year-old also believes coffee shop conversations can foster creative communities, which is why he and business partner Marcus Ervin are opening Black Coffee this November. The coffee shop will be located next to Black Owned, the store the pair opened in 2014 at 822 Elm St., Downtown to sell the clothing brand they created.

“Our vision was to start a brand and promote black excellence and ownership through fashion,” Cameron said of the Black Owned fashion line he and Ervin originally launched in 2011. “What I wanted to do was create a brand that allowed me to express myself as a creative but also connect to people because I think that ownership idea in our community, there is a disconnect of what we can actually do.”

The West End native said Black Coffee will fill another need he sees in Cincinnati’s African American community when it opens.

“We’ve based our culture around hip-hop, street culture, fashion, art and music,” Cameron said of he and Ervin’s business philosophy. “And as an African American, I felt like in Cincinnati there was no coffee shops that spoke to me as an individual. Even if the coffee was good the environment wasn’t necessarily fitting. So, what Black Coffee is the fix to that. So that people like myself who are artists but also entrepreneurs, creatives can come to a space and feel comfortable.”

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New Represent initiative aims to bring more black-owned businesses to Over-the-Rhine

Reading Time: 1 minute “Over-the-Rhine is one of the most popular business areas now, especially for folks that want to walk around and go to different bars, restaurants and retail shops. Unfortunately, it has not been very representative of the Cincinnati community so far,” said William Thomas, co-founder and expansion director of MORTAR, a business accelerator for low-income, inner-city entrepreneurs.

“With all this energy that’s being put into Over-the-Rhine right now, I do feel like there’s an opportunity to change that,” he said, “and in an ideal world, create the most diverse business district in Cincinnati and create a model that can be shown to the rest of the country.”

William Thomas

Over-the-Rhine community leaders and others with an interest in the neighborhood came up with Represent in a working group that Cincinnati City councilmembers Tamaya Dennard and Greg Landsman convened. MORTAR and the Over-the-Rhine Chamber are leading the effort along with a committee of representatives from the African American Chamber, 3CDC, Findlay Market, Model Group and Urban Sites.

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Cincinnati Access Fund provides $3.5 million to minority-owned small businesses

Reading Time: 1 minute “Small businesses are the fabric of our community. They are extremely important. It is important that they are successful. Provide capital and technical assistance to small companies is something we are passionate about,” Fifth Third Bank CEO Greg Carmichael said. “When you are starting a small business, you need as much information as possible on the success criteria and make sure you have the adequate funding and have a business plan you can execute.”

The city, alongside MORTAR, Cincinnati’s entrepreneurship hub, will provide the businesses for the program.

“If you go to those neighborhoods again and you are driving along those main streets you see mom-and-pop main street businesses. The more of those we can create, the better we will be,” said MORTAR founding partner Derrick Braziel. “Whether it is occupied storefronts, whether it’s jobs or a great cupcake you never tried before. What MORTAR is trying to show is that there are people all across our city with great ideas if we just invest in them and give them a chance, it makes our city better.”

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Crew Love [Staff Edition]: Shannon Hooten

Your neighborhood: Current: Hartwell Tell us more about your role at MORTAR. As the Retail & Events Manager at MORTAR, I help small businesses and entrepreneurs book and coordinate their pop up shops at our four pop up shop locations by giving them the opportunity...

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This UC Leader Uses Entrepreneurship, Law to Help People

Reading Time: 1 minute There are a lot of game changers in the Cincinnati startup ecosystem. One of those game changers is Lewis Goldfarb.

Goldfarb founded and runs the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic. He has had a storied career, ranging from working as a CPA to being an entrepreneur himself. The drive through these career choices has always been simple.

He wants to help people.

“I have had several different jobs and careers and I’ve always been looking for the jobs where I feel like it can make a real difference in the lives of people,” he said, “and that’s what led me to this job in Cincinnati.”

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Announcement: Transform Finance Selects First 3 Cities for Local Institutes

Reading Time: 1 minute ATLANTA is full of community organizations that are hungry to attract the capital for programs, jobs, and developments to grow their neighborhoods in a just and equitable way, according to local champions Nikishka Iyengar and Melonie Tharpe (The Guild). But despite (or perhaps because of) the prevalence of finance and banking in the city, Atlanta is still in its early days of impact investing and including communities in the conversation around capital flows. With The Guild, as well as local champion TransFormation Alliance, we are hopeful the Institute will catalyze the process of dozens of community organizations engaging with finance as a tool for social justice.

CINCINNATI is at the heart of some of America’s most exciting community and economy development, according to local champions Derrick Braziel (MORTAR) and Kristen Barker (Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative). The Institute will build on the pioneering work already being done by the local community around social entrepreneurship and socially-conscious funds by exploring new economic tools and unlocking potential for underserved Cincinnatians.

PHOENIX continues to experience displacement in communities that have been marginalized for decades. Moreover, new investment is accelerating inequality and nonlocal land ownership. Despite these strong headwinds, communities are fighting for social justice by combating predatory lending, offering micro-loans for local entrepreneurs to generate local wealth, and increasing homeownership for people of color, according to local champion Kimber Lanning (Local First Arizona Foundation). Along with other local champions Katelyn Harris-Lange (African-American Women’s Giving and Empowerment Circle) and the Vitalyst Health Foundation, we are thrilled to bring the Institute to Phoenix so the city and its community members can keep innovating around finance for social justice.

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Small Businesses, Big Changes In Walnut Hills

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The Walnut Hills landscape is changing by the day. Vacant storefronts are taking shape as the next businesses that will bring energy and a tax base into the neighborhood. When Kroger pulled its grocery store out of the neighborhood in 2017, it was a significant blow to the community. Now, a grant will help open a new Peebles Corner Grocery at the site of the old store.

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MORTAR’s entrepreneur training helps longtime residents ride the wave of revitalization

Reading Time: 1 minute Most news stories about MORTAR note that it’s an African-American-led group but don’t explain why that matters. While small minority businesses are opening at a faster rate than any others, minorities are likely to receive smaller small-business loans and at higher interest rates than their white counterparts, as shown, for example, in a 2010 U.S. Commerce Department report. That lack of access to capital can kill a business before it gets off the ground.

None of that deterred MORTAR’s leaders, and things changed in 2015. MORTAR was seeking applicants for its first training class, and the announcement appeared in a local newspaper. The article also mentioned that MORTAR was looking for space for its burgeoning business.

The founders were contacted by a local entrepreneur who offered them free office and storage space in Over-the-Rhine.

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Opinion: Empowering Everyday Experts To Improve Our City

Reading Time: 1 minute With the recognition that living an issue everyday makes you an expert, and that everyone has their own set of “Wouldn’t it be great if…” insights, we recently organized and co-hosted the region’s first-ever “Policy Pitch Night” to give people in Greater Cincinnati a chance to submit and pitch their policy ideas for how to improve our city.

The submissions were open to anyone, and we received dozens of innovative ideas from everyday experts across the city. Five finalists were selected by a group of judges from within our “Bridgebuilder” network of community leaders. On a recent weekday evening, these five finalists pitched their ideas – Shark Tank style – in front of a panel of city leaders and a diverse audience of 100 people.

Each person in the audience then voted for their favorite policy, and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld’s office has promised to champion and implement the winning idea at City Hall.

Ideas ranged from increasing the diversity of city-appointed boards and commissions to creating an Office of Homelessness Eradication to developing a new city branding strategy to attract more people to move here. Ultimately, the audience chose as the winning pitch an idea from MORTAR co-founder Derrick Braziel, whose experience led him to advocate for policy and personnel changes to better support minority business growth and innovation.

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Sittenfeld Invites New Ideas With Policy Pitch Night

Reading Time: 1 minute OVER-THE-RHINE, Ohio (WKRC) – Cincinnati City Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld is inviting city residents to come to the table with new ideas on how to improve Cincinnati.

It’s called “Policy Pitch Night.” A total of 30 pitches were made and five were selected as finalists. The five ideas were pitched to Sittenfeld, city council member Chris Seelbach and Assistant City Manager Sheila Hill Christian Monday night along with a packed house at The People’s Liberty on Elm Street…
…Brief questions were answered after each pitch and then everyone in the room got one vote.

While the numbers were not made public, Isaacsohn said there was a clear winner.

That clear winner is Derrick Braziel of MORTAR and his pitch to promote minority business growth.

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Minority business office wins Policy Night vote

Reading Time: 1 minute Braziel said the city needs to build a comprehensive business canvas, learning the nuances of business management, launch businesses that create jobs and circulate dollars locally and gain access to new customers and opportunities for additional funding.

He said his organization can do some of those things, but a true partnership with the city would make a more robust statement to minority business owners that Cincinnati wants to be a leader in the development of minority-owned business startups.

“If you are a professional African-American, the place to be is Atlanta,” Braziel said. “Why shouldn’t it be Cincinnati? It should be. That’s the vibe I want to create.”

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Building a community of entrepreneurs

Reading Time: 1 minute “When we think of bricks, we think of physical spaces – but the mortar is what holds everything together,” said Woods, in a recent podcast interview. “For us, [that] is a representation of people. You can have beautiful buildings and great parks but if you don’t have people who care about those things, then it’s difficult to sustain.”
Since its founding in 2014, 175 entrepreneurs have graduated from MORTAR’s nine-week program – and among them, African Americans and women each represent a majority. Its alumni now run a wide range of businesses: a platform for neighbors to employ teenagers within their community; an indoor dog park where owners can work out with their dog; a graphic recording service that turns meeting discussion into visual art in real time; among many others.
“I want the legacy of MORTAR to be that we took a risk and told people ‘yes’ who were used to being told ‘no,’” said Woods. “We want to be known as the organization that told people their ideas were possible. And didn’t just give them lip service, but the tools, resources and connections to move forward.”

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Game On: Awe-inspiring black entrepreneurs in Greater Cincinnati

Reading Time: 1 minute Marvin and Tabatha have weathered the storm of entrepreneurship, through the good and the bad. Over the past 20 years the two social entrepreneurs have made formidable gains, both behind and in front of the counter. “I attended the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP for fashion design and sports management,” Marvin said. “I never thought I’d be doing what I do today.”

Outside of their two-decade career, they have managed to follow their hearts as well. After the loss of his sister to cancer, Marvin wanted to make sure that more people were aware of the pitfalls of the disease and founded The Butts Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization with an aim to reach into the lives of others for positive change through giving, caring, sharing, education and, most of all, love.

And they’re not alone: There’s a large number of black entrepreneurs who have made sure that, as their success grows, their giving grows as well.

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Why Cincinnati?

Reading Time: 1 minute I wanted to talk to the people. I wanted to shake their hands, look them in the eye and learn about the city from their words and actions. I met guys like William Thomas and Derrick Braziel. William and Derrick are the co-founders of a company called Mortar. Mortar works in the Over the Rhine community training local men and women to become business entrepreneurs. 175 members of the community have graduated from the Mortar Program. 90% of those are African-American, 70% of those are women. The goal is to change lives through entrepreneurship, knowing that people take pride in ownership. Pride breeds involvement and that turns people into doers. Curate My Community. I was beginning to realize that this was more than a slogan, this is the soul of Cincinnati. Mortar and the businesses that it has produced are part of the reason why the Over the Rhine community, a community that was destroyed in the 2001 riots and was one of the poorest communities in Cincinnati as recent as six years ago, is now one of its most progressive and promising.

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L. Mari Catering serves up a broad range of multicultural dishes

Reading Time: 1 minute CINCINNATI — Salimah Mari Abdul-Hakim wants to make her mark in Cincinnati’s food scene and she has the hustle to get it done.

As the owner and chef of L. Mari Catering, she’s dishing up a full menu of urban cuisine steeped in multiculturalism.

“Urban cuisine is an infusion of soulful and multicultural dishes,” said Abdul-Hakim, who goes by L. Mari (“L” is short for Salimah). “It’s made from a place with a lot of love and soul.”

Having lived in Atlanta, Abdul-Hakim is used to having abundant choices when it comes to international food.

“When I relocated to Cincinnati, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of restaurants offering cultural cuisine,” she said. “I decided to change that.”

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African American Chamber Introduces Business Accelerator

Reading Time: 1 minute The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin is launching a new business accelerator called RISE for entrepreneurs in underserved neighborhoods.

RISE is based on the successful MORTAR program in Cincinnati. A cohort of Milwaukee leaders, including African American Chamber president and chief executive officer Ossie Kendrix, traveled to Cincinnati several months ago to see MORTAR in action, Kendrix said.

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United Way Partner Spotlight – MORTAR Cincinnati

Reading Time: 1 minute United Way of Greater Cincinnati announced in December that 80 percent of investments would now be directed toward moving children and families out of poverty. Part of that effort will include investing in innovative strategies, such as the MORTAR Entrepreneurship Academy. MORTAR is also one of eight new United Way partners that is black-owned and operated. This is part of United Way’s intentional decisions to be inclusive and create more space for equity in our community.
MORTAR’s mission is clear: “Building Communities Through Entrepreneurship.” Co-Founder Allen Woods explains how important this new partnership is for our community at large.

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Caroline Woolard defines what it means to be a solidarity economy artist

Reading Time: 1 minute The work of Springboard for the Arts is rooted in arts-based economic and community development. We believe artists are critical assets in that work, and support them by offering a variety of resources that enable them to make both a living and a life. This is why Springboard is a member of the New Economy Coalition (NEC): because we believe in the vision of a new economy, one that is just, sustainable, and democratic; one that is ethical and community-rooted; and one that does not rely on the exploitation of disenfranchised communities in order to thrive. This is the fifth in a series of stories highlighting the work of other arts-based NEC member organizations and affiliated organizations that have developed ways to sustain themselves while also sustaining artists, demonstrating that, yes, a new economy is possible. Read the rest of the series here.

In previous features examining the relationship between arts and the economy, we have focused on organizations doing work towards developing a creative economy with an emphasis on self-determining communities, financial sustainability, and economic equality. Here we are taking a different approach, profiling one single individual, Caroline Woolard, who identifies as a “solidarity economy artist.” In a written interview, we ask her what that means, how she demonstrates the intersection between art and the economy in her work, and how that work translates into real world practices. What follows is an edited transcript of that interview.

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MORTAR Moves Uptown Accelerator Into UC 1819 Innovation Hub

Reading Time: 1 minute This is the second year MORTAR is hosting the nine-week accelerator program in Uptown. Robinson recruited MORTAR to Uptown last year and knew that it was a priority to continue to support MORTAR’s ability to attract a non-traditional, urban population.

The partnership between the Uptown Consortium and MORTAR builds on the organizations’ shared belief that community development should grow neighborhoods in harmony with its residents.

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From Backyard to Brick and Mortar: BBQ Business Uses SBA Resources Every Step of the Way

Reading Time: 1 minute Situation:

The idea for Cincinnati-based barbecue business Sweets and Meats began in Kristen Bailey’s backyard. She and her partner Anton would host cookouts, serving family recipes to their friends. As word spread about their food and many people began to encourage Kristen and Anton to open a restaurant.

In 2014, the two leaped into entrepreneurship, starting their business with a smoker, $500 in capital and a volunteer work force. For the first 18 months, the business did not have a payroll.

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A bold wall of vintage ads recalls Walnut Hills’ history of black-owned businesses

Reading Time: 1 minute The slogan of the Andrew Hardin grocery in Walnut Hills was “The path that leads to satisfaction.” That was truth in advertising for African-Americans living in Cincinnati in the early and mid-20th century. Whether black families needed food, a florist, photographer or funeral planning, all roads led to Walnut Hills during the age of segregation. At Hardin’s and dozens of other black-owned businesses clustered near the intersection of Lincoln and Gilbert avenues, they knew they wouldn’t be turned away.

Residents over the age of 50 can still recall a bustling retail district where neighbors took care of neighbors. “Yeah, this was our place,” they’ve told Aprina Johnson, community coordinator for the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation….
But a wheat-paste installation by artists Janet Creekmore and Ben Jason Neal is taking a trip down memory lane. Reproductions of old advertisements and fresh images inspired by the long-gone businesses cover a boarded-up building in the 900 block of Lincoln. The black and white artwork is part of a larger project that Johnson calls “a beautiful collision” of people with overlapping interests in art, history, urban redevelopment and social justice.

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Iconic Walnut Hills landmark to become city’s first minority-owned brewery

Reading Time: 1 minute The graffiti-laden building at the corner of East McMillan Street and Gilbert Avenue, which towered above Peebles Corner when it opened in 1931, has been “down in the dumps for about 20 years,” Brian Jackson said. The first time they stepped inside, he and marketing partner Marvin Abrinica weren’t sure it was the home their company, Esoteric Brewing, needed.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, is this even doable, making something out of this space?'” Abrinica recalled.

CEO Jackson believed — and convinced Abrinica — that they could. He saw the potential for a restoration that moved the space into the future while preserving the art deco aesthetic that made it fashionable in the ’30s.

He wasn’t the only one. When Esoteric Brewing opens in 2019, it will be just one part of a $15-million-plus development meant to reinvigorate the heart of Walnut Hills.

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Reading Time: 1 minute The new businesses, including a coffee shop and jazz club, sneaker store, video-themed bar, barbeque restaurant, and Brick Haus, a storefront for MORTAR, a nonprofit minority business accelerator program, are located in the Trevarren Flats buildings in Walnut Hills. More than 70 new jobs are projected to be created by the businesses, according to Cincinnati developer The Model Group.

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Reading Time: 1 minute “There is a rich heritage of black businesses in Walnut Hills, so many successful businesses that were run by black residents. We want to be part of rebuilding that legacy,” said Allen Woods, one of three friends who launched MORTAR in 2014. Community leaders, who helped renovate the flats are hoping the Brick Haus helps revitalize Walnut Hills.

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#BlkWomeninBiz: Tyler Townsend

Reading Time: 1 minute Tyler Townsend is a 26 years old Cincinnati Ohio native and mother of two. She is also the proud owner of Cincy Sweet Pot. Cincy Sweet Pot provides hemp and cbd infused edibles, oils, soaps and ingredients geared to improve the quality of life.

She began reading and researching the different ways people use cannabis. When she discovered the different foods that can be made with cannabis, she felt it was perfect fit as she was already an avid cooker; so she began creating her own edibles!

One of the first steps she took to truly explore this new venture, was attending the Mortar Cincinnati Entrepreneur program in 2016.

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How Communities Can Better Support Small Businesses

Reading Time: 1 minute The House Small Business Committee hosted the hearing to examine how important community support is to cultivating entrepreneurship and small business success. The hearing also explored how a thriving entrepreneurship culture can, in turn, improve communities.

Small businesses can be supported by communities in many different ways. Communities might have training and investments coming from the private-sector or support services and development programs coming from the government. It’s also important to have the right infrastructure and culture already in place.

“Business success is predicated on many factors,” Stephanie Carter, who testified on behalf of the Association of Women’s Business Centers, said during the hearing. “What is undeniable, however, is that those businesses that have a network of support behind them, fare better than those without.”

Carter adds such communities offer more expertise to help businesses as they launch and grow. Additionally, a community that understands and supports the business could help in spotting new opportunities for development. The culture can also create confidence and a drive to be entrepreneurial.

Ara Bagdasarian, who spoke on behalf of the Small Business Development Center, helped to create a framework that communities could adapt intended to foster entrepreneurship and small business growth. He developed it by working with private and public partners while exploring ways to boost development in Leesburg, Virginia.

“The fruits of this effort, I believe, have yielded a model that can be replicated in large and small communities all across America,” Bagdasarian said. “It is with this model, and others like it, that communities suffering from high unemployment or the uprooting of a key industry can plant the seeds of entrepreneurship and cultivate the growth of small businesses.”

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Fabric of Humanity

Reading Time: 2 minutes I ask myself (and I ask you) to dig deep and ask what I’m actually willing to sacrifice for the place of our fellow human within this beautiful, sacred tapestry of humanity.  When the time requires us to step up – will you risk your comfort, your hopes and dreams, and say, “yes!”

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Cincinnati’s first minority-owned brewery coming to Walnut Hills in 2018

Reading Time: 1 minute Beer is big in Cincinnati — it’s not exactly news. As breweries spring up around the Tristate, each one has to work hard to differentiate itself from a crowded craft beer market.

Recently announced Esoteric Brewing Company has several tactics for setting itself apart from others, starting with the fact that it will be the first minority-owned brewery in the city. Founder and CEO Brian Jackson honed his skills at MadTree before deciding to set off on his own; he’s also a MORTAR grad.

“’Esoteric’ means ‘sophistication,’” says Jackson. “We’re trying to elevate the palates of customers and the entire experience of people coming to breweries in Cincinnati.”

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FORBES: How MORTAR is Supporting Underrepresented Entrepreneurs #30UNDER30

Reading Time: 1 minute Derrick Braziel & William Thomas II saw big changes happening to their Cincinnati neighborhood, Over-the-Rhine. They, along with co-founder Allen Woods, wanted to be a part of that change. Mortar is a company that provides a twelve-week program, pop-up shops, and business capital to help non-traditional entrepreneurs start and run successful businesses.

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The Lady’s Sparrow Period Pop-Up Shop

Reading Time: 1 minute Last weekend, Lady’s Sparrow Foundation hosted The Period Pop-Up Shop at Innovation Alley in Covington to educate and empower young women when it comes to their bodies and health. The purpose of The Period Pop-Up Shop is to disrupt periods by eradicating the embarrassment and discomfort for young ladies and to equip parents with the necessary tools for this important conversation around womanhood.

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An old-fashioned touch on Thanksgiving

Reading Time: 1 minute Thanksgiving dinner is the original Throwback Thursday. It’s a #TBT with a menu that might once have been normal to cook every day, but they’re foods we’ve gotten too busy and modern to make often.

Dinner rolls are one of those foods. Once, yeasty, soft, buttery rolls could have been on the dinner table anytime. Now, it takes a special occasion. Like Thanksgiving. Even though potatoes and stuffing and maybe sweet potatoes are on the menu, a pile of warm rolls wrapped in a cloth napkin makes the holiday meal complete.

More good rolls for Thanksgiving:

Gigi’s Kitchen makes rolls, either plain dinner rolls (Well, not plain. They’re nice and rich and buttery) or lightly sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. These rolls are served at the National Exemplar in Mariemont.

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MORTAR, after helping nearly 180 Cincinnati entrepreneurs, wins national SBA competition

Reading Time: 1 minute Cincinnati’s MORTAR, the accelerator born in Over-the-Rhine to help entrepreneurial residents rise with their neighborhood, won a national Small Business Administration contest.

MORTAR, for the second year in a row, competed with other accelerators across the nation and won the U.S. SBA’s fourth Growth Accelerator Fund competition. It was one of 20 winners nationwide, which entitles it to a cash prize of $50,000.

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Derrick Braziel Presentation – DO GOOD X

Reading Time: 1 minute Derrick Braziel (Founding Partner & Managing Director of @weareMORTAR) was a guest speaker at the last #dogoodx conference. In case you weren’t able to make it to our event, check out his talk here! #changemaker

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Why MORTAR is the BEST choice for entrepreneurs learning business

Reading Time: 1 minute What I really liked about MORTAR is how personal, transparent, and active my teachers were because it built a student-teacher trust that you won’t find in most schools. Whenever we had questions, we received thorough answers. I also appreciate how productive our group discussions were. My peers were really respectful with answering each other’s questions if they had answers and were willing to share their information with everyone. You know how some people will know something but won’t give a lil help to anyone else because “it could hurt their own business,’ not realizing that sharing their “light” with others won’t diminish their own? Yeah. Not at MORTAR.

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Craft brewery coming to iconic Walnut Hills building

Reading Time: 1 minute Esoteric Brewing Co. is coming to the $20 million Paramount Square development in the Paramount building at the corner of Gilbert Avenue and East McMillan Street. Co-founder and CEO Brian Jackson hopes to open it by the fourth quarter of 2018.

Jackson’s desire to open his own brewery brought him to Mortar, the Over-the-Rhine accelerator that got started to help entrepreneurial residents come up with the neighborhood. He was part of its first class in 2015 and even won the Judge’s Choice award at the pitch night.

It was at Mortar that Jackson met co-founder Marvin Abrinica, an 18-year Procter & Gamble alum who founded his own agency, Thrivera. Abrinica also founded Wunderfund, the region’s first equity crowdfunding platform that gives backers a piece of the company they’re investing in rather than a T-shirt or a mug.

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Brick OTR, Cincy Pop Shop give entrepreneurs and artists big bang for small bucks

Reading Time: 1 minute Pop-up shops have been springing up in Cincinnati, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to temporarily rent space instead of committing to long-term rental agreements.

While the concept isn’t new, more small-business owners and entrepreneurs are utilizing pop-up shops to not only sell products and raise brand awareness but also to test business ideas in real time.

“Typically, we see a lot of lifestyle businesses, but the space is open to anyone in the area that has an exciting idea or is currently running a business,” said manager Victoria Sumners.

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John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Awards presented by EO Cincinnati

Reading Time: 1 minute What personality trait does being an entrepreneur require?
Patience and tenacity. There are times when you want things to happen more quickly, but if you have the patience to do – what you can when you can – and allow the rest to fall into place, entrepreneurship can be a wonderful journey. There are times when it’s difficult and you want to quit, so tenacity allows you to continue moving towards your goal even when everything around you tells you to give up.

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L. Mari Catering

Reading Time: 1 minute There are a variety of events that L. Mari Catering covers for its clients. “We provide catering services; whether it’s an intimate affair for ten people, a corporate luncheon, or a larger scale event of 300 people-we are able to accommodate you,” she says. “We also provide weekly meal preparation to clients who may find it easier to free up sometime and allow us to cook their meals for the week! Lastly, we have hosted events and have done many pop-up events, along with festivals!” Some of the foods that L. Mari Catering offers is butter chicken, blackened salmon, spiced Hennessy wings, seafood pasta, Cajun shrimp and pepper medley, Halal options, vegan black bean chili and more.

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It’s About the RELATIONSHIP.

Reading Time: 2 minutes I don’t really concern myself too much with the thoughts or opinions of people I don’t know or care about.  They don’t detract from my performance, nor do they distract me from my purpose or goals. But let me be at odds with someone I love, or who is supposed to love me.  When there’s a conflict at the office, or a family dispute, my energy levels can drain like a wilting grain of grass in Phoenix heat.

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SBA “Bridges to Success” Roundtable

Reading Time: 1 minute During the “Bridges to Success” roundtable with minority-owned small businesses, both Chabot and Garcia addressed questions from the 90 participants ranging from government contracting certifications, access to capital and other challenges that small businesses face.

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MORTAR Alumni takeover Cincinnati Music Festival Weekend

Reading Time: 1 minute We have a lot of MORTAR alumni who are staying extremely busy this weekend – while many are located onsite at Paul Brown Stadium for Cincinnati Music Fest, there are several others who have events located elsewhere in the city. Check out the full event list here!

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AOL co-founder Steve Case promotes Cincy start-up scene

Reading Time: 1 minute This time, Case’s hour-long visit last week was more of a check-in sandwiched between other meetings in town, but it was long enough to inspire folks like William Thomas.

Thomas, a Cincinnati native and graduate of Wittenberg University, is a co-founder of MORTAR, which helps underserved businesses and entrepreneurs succeed.

“Since the last time he was here in 2014, the ecosystem has been built out significantly,” Thomas said. “MORTAR was just getting started, OCEAN (a faith-based business accelerator) was not started, Hillman (a business accelerator focusing on minority- and women-owned businesses) wasn’t wasn’t even here.”

“Three years later the ecosystem is starting to thrive,” he said. “It is building up, and more and more organizations are taking part in what’s going on here in the Cincy start-up scene.”

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Attached at the Hip: How Choosing the Right Partner(ship) can Make or Break your Vision

Reading Time: 3 minutes At the end of the day, this is a difficult process.  Picking the wrong partner and/or partnership can not only hinder the progress of your organization, it can also lead to its ultimate demise.  But if it makes you feel any better, no person is perfect.  We all make mistakes, which is why I encourage you to follow your heart (rule #1) and fully invest in the decision you’ve made.

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