Nashville Business Incubation Center Enables Digital Transformation of Minority-owned Businesses During Pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – December 3, 2020 – The Nashville Business Incubation Center announces the launch of its Smart Growth Digital Lab Initiative as part of its successful Groundwork accelerator program for minority business owners. The Smart Growth Digital Lab Initiative is being funded by a $150,000 grant awarded by The Frist Foundation. The Groundwork program supports entrepreneurs to implement the financial, legal, marketing and human capital structures to transform their startup into a thriving business. Started in July, 20 businesses are participating in the first cohort that includes multi-session, hands-on learning focused on digital transformation of their businesses. The Smart Growth Digital Lab supports entrepreneurs with implementing strategies for digital branding, e-commerce, advertising and SEO, social media and email marketing.

Entrepreneurs have endured a number of challenges in 2020 including a pandemic and the economic downturn. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently reported that small business ownership fell nationwide 22 percent from February to April 2020—the largest drop ever recorded. Black businesses experienced the most severe decline at 41 percent, followed by Latino businesses at 32 percent, and Asian business owners dropped by 26 percent

“It’s widely documented that communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the health crisis, business closures and job losses,” says Ms. Angela Crane-Jones, CEO, Nashville Business Incubation Center. “We extend our gratitude to Pete Bird and The Frist Foundation for helping minority-owned businesses offset those losses and provide them with the necessary knowledge and tools to integrate technology within their companies.”

Smart Growth Digital Lab participant Martha Lupai, owner and CEO, A&M Marketplace located inside the Nashville Farmers Market, learned how to create a website and establish social media profiles for her business through the program. She says the hands-on instruction has been beneficial to build her brand. Martha shares, “The program gives you the foundation to run your business in a proper way. They give you the tools to use and walk-through instructions. They guide us through the steps and answer questions.”

Another participant, speaker/coach/entrepreneur, Christy Pruitt-Haynes is CEO of Our Truths, an organization for Black women to enhance, inspire, and amplify their lives. She says, “This course has taught me different skills to use such as Canva, make changes to my website to optimize search engine results, and Zapier to automate pieces of my business.” She says hands-on practice helps to “cement the learning” and the online instruction was created with the learner in mind to make it a seamless process.

Applications for the next cohort of Groundwork including the Smart Growth Digital Lab Initiative will be accepted through December 2020 by visiting

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