Five Black-Owned Retail Businesses to Receive Grant Funding and Open Downtown

| July 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore press release:

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore today announced the first group of five entrepreneurs selected for an innovative new program to attract and support Black-owned retail businesses in Downtown Baltimore neighborhoods.

The five businesses are:

  • The Black Genius Art show – a multi-media creative space and fashion brand owned by Bryan Robinson;
  • Codetta Bake Shop – a café and bakery specializing in desert items owned by Sumayyah Bilal and Christopher Burgess;
  • Elite Secrets Bridal – a bridal design house owned by LaTonya Turnage;
  • Media Rhythm Institute – a hip-hop-inspired media space with a café and educational studio owned by Deverick Murray, Jimmie Thomas, and Tiffany Welch;
  • And, NKVSKIN – a line of natural beauty products owned by Nikia Vaughan.

The Downtown BOOST (Black-Owned & Occupied Storefront Tenancy) Program: Presented by Fearless, provides up to $50,000 in grant funding for capital and operating expenses. Businesses selected for BOOST will open a physical retail location at one of several available Downtown storefronts pre-identified by Downtown Partnership. The program also connects the businesses to a robust cohort of experts for business education and mentorship as well as ongoing technical, legal, accounting, and marketing advice.

“Today’s announcement isn’t the end our journey with these five, amazing businesses. It’s just the beginning,” said Downtown Partnership of Baltimore President, Shelonda Stokes. “We didn’t create BOOST to check off a box and move on. We’re in it with them for the long haul because their success will create opportunities for other entrepreneurs to follow in their footsteps.”

“Initiatives like BOOST are critical for strengthening Black entrepreneurship in Baltimore, so I commend Shelonda Stokes and Downtown Partnership for their continued support,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This funding is needed to nurture our growing Black business sector and ensure the future success of aspiring Black entrepreneurs across the city.”

BOOST is presented by Fearless, the $40 million Black-owned technology company located in Downtown Baltimore. Founder and CEO, Delali Dzirasa, has long been committed to helping Black entrepreneurs and clearly sees the need for programs like BOOST.

“Starting a business is incredibly challenging but the barriers to success are even higher if you’re a Black business owner” Dzirasa said. “With BOOST, we’re removing barriers upheld by structural racism that makes it harder for Black-owned businesses to access capital, attract a broad customer base, and grow generational wealth.”

Detailed information about BOOST, is available at:

BOOST is Sponsored by Fearless and supported by BGE and M&T Bank. It is also supported by the Baltimore Development Corporation, Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, the City of Baltimore Small Business Resource Center, Maryland Small Business Development Center, DLA Piper, the Greater Baltimore Urban League, and the T.Rowe Price Foundation.

About Codetta Bake Shop, which has been operating out of a shared space at 554 E. Fort Ave. in Riverside:

Codetta Bake Shop is a café and bakery specializing in creative desert items owned by Sumayyah Bilal and Christopher Burgess.

As a bakery, Codetta specializes in traditional American-style desserts such as cheesecake, cupcakes, buttercream cakes, ice cream, and other delicious treats. Through BOOST, Codetta is expanding to a full service eatery serving breakfast, lunch, and brunch. Their menu will consist of a combination of sweet and savory items made with high quality ingredients and expert cooking techniques, available for purchase by the local weekday workforce as well as weekend brunch clientele. Codetta is hoping to become a touchstone of service, atmosphere, and high quality food for the Downtown Baltimore community.

Christopher Burgess and Sumayyah Bilal of Codetta Bake Shop

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News releases from various sources around South Baltimore.