The 25 Black business owners of Birmingham’s 2022 Magic City Match cohort competed for a total of $450,000 in grant funding at a June 17 pitch event. Chosen by a panel of judges, here are the top 13 Magic City Match grant recipients:
• $100,000: Heather Skanes, Oasis Women’s Health
• $50,000: Lavoris Williams, L Williams & Associates
• $50,000: Alisha Jiwani, Nia Benefit Corporation
• $25,000: Alexis Kimbrough, Herban Soul Café
• $25,000: Jay Johnson, Johnson Media Group, Inc. DBA: College Prep U
• $25,000: Joi Iman Gresham, Joi Iman
• $25,000: Andre Williams, Madd Studios
• $25,000: Cameron Crummie, MDV
• $25,000: Krystal White, Property and Pipelines
• $25,000: Martrell McGinnis, Rid-A-Bug
• $25,000: LaTisha Fletcher, Sankofa Inc.
• $25,000: Ursula Smith, Ursula Smith Company
• $25,000: Corey Whatley, Woodlawn Bar & Lounge
“Prosper is thrilled with the first cohort of Magic City Match participants,” said Dee Manyama, Prosper Initiatives Director. “We are proud of the selected winners and all their businesses represent. We look forward to witnessing their growth as we continue to cultivate opportunities for their businesses to be elevated and see the Black-owned business ecosystem in Birmingham and Jefferson County thrive.”
The pitch event was part of the programming at “Igniting Possibilities,” a business expo to celebrate, support and network with Black businesses.
All 25 Magic City Match cohort members received $2,000 at the May completion of an 8-week business academy led by Dr. Alice Gordon Holloway, CEO of Skye Connect, to help the business owners achieve greater short-term success and long-term sustainability. A total of $500,000 in grant dollars were disbursed to the 25 Black business owners in the 2022 cohort.
The 25 Black-owned businesses of the Magic City Match cohort, in alphabetical order:
- Cameron Crummie, MDV
- Aurelia Davis, Salon Textures
- Reginald Davis
- LaTisha Fletcher, Sankofa Ventures
- Greg & Cynthia Gratton, Green Acres Cafe Downtown
- Carl Green, Kloud 9
- Joi Iman Gresham, Joi Iman
- Alisha Jiwani, Nia Benefit Corporation
- Jay Johnson, Johnson Media Group, Inc. DBA: College Prep U
- LaToya Jolly, Jolly Cakes
- Wanda & Eugene Jones, Talk of the Town Barbershop
- Alexis Kimbrough, Herban Soul Café
- Tangy King-Essex, Squeaky Clean Cleaning Company
- Matthew Mayes, Matthew Mayes Art
- Martrell McGinnis, Rid-A-Bug Pest Control and Termite
- Heather Skanes, Oasis Family Birthing Center
- Ursula Smith, Ursula Smith Dance
- Tiffany Storey, Storeyhouse Counseling & Consulting
- Theuda Tusajiwe, N’mosa Fabrics
- Jon Westbrook, Stez Eats
- Andre Williams, MADD Studios
- Lavoris Williams, L Williams and Associates
- Corey Whatley, Woodlawn Bar & Lounge
- Krystal White, Properties and Pipelines
- Dexter Young Jr., Henley & Young
More than 800 Black business owners in Birmingham applied for the inaugural Magic City Match grant program, and an independent committee selected the cohort of 25. Funded by Prosper and presented by REV Birmingham, IGNITE! Alabama and Urban Impact Inc., Magic City Match is designed to increase business competency, provide access to capital and give new market opportunities to Black business owners with brick-and-mortar locations in Birmingham.
“The dedication, energy and creativity displayed by the 25 business owners of this cohort preparing for the opportunity to compete for these awards has been remarkable,” said Robert Emerick, Director of Business Growth for REV Birmingham. “Even those who did not win the top grants are walking away from this process with more knowledge, resources and contacts to help grow their businesses – and that’s a win for everyone.”
Magic City Match is funded by Prosper and presented by REV Birmingham, IGNITE! Alabama and Urban Impact Inc. Want more information?
Magic City Match is a program that transforms lives and opens doors for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Led by REV Birmingham and powered by Prosper, this initiative aims to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses by matching them with brick-and-mortar spaces where they can thrive. After a successful pilot program in 2022, Magic City Match is back in action and ready to empower a new wave of entrepreneurs.
One of the most legendary and storied neighborhoods of Birmingham is Woodlawn. It is a community, anchored by one of the great public high schools of Birmingham, that has produced many citizens who contributed to the life of our city and has had an impact beyond the neighborhood itself. In a short post like this true justice cannot be done to the rich heritage and legacy of Woodlawn. However, we hope that this narrative brings together many of the diverse threads that make up the fabric of the community’s historic arc in a concise piece.
This month’s vendor spotlight highlights Easy Breezy, a local, low-waste shop founded by Brianna Deere. Dedicated to helping others reduce waste and providing inexpensive, non-toxic cleaning supplies, Brianna began selling to the public for the first time at the April 2023 Woodlawn Street Market.