This program, which welcomes owners of restaurants, catering, food trucks, and more, was designed to help the chosen candidates grow and learn their current business, or start their first business.
"This expansion of Catapult to include a culinary component is a prime example of how creative partnerships can empower entrepreneurs by providing not just funding, but a whole battery of tools inclusive of resources, training and the technical assistance needed to better ensure success," says URA deputy executive director Diamonte Walker in a press release.
The business owners selected for this inaugural year are:
- Jewel Edward - Jewel The Baker
- Keyla Cook - Casa Brasil
- Glenn Ford - Season With A Reason
- Shauntel Green - Dirty Birds Chicken
- Darryl Robinson - Catering
- Nckeon Saunders - City Smoke BBQ
- Eric White - PGH_Dumplingz
- Reginald Hudson and Ohnedaruth Swain - Baked Cafe
- Cheyenne Bronzell - Phat Girlz A Cookin
- Terina Hicks - CobblerWorld
- Lisa Freeman - Freeman Family Farm
- Ariana Rueben - Nice to Be Iced Cookies
- Regina Brown - The Fine Feather Inc.
- Gracia Younger - GG Pops
- Nicole Porterfield - Cake Nikki P
Catapult Greater Pittsburgh executive director Tammy Thompson says Catapult Culinary has been in development for two years, adding that it came about after the organization was "inundated with applications from food-based businesses" for its entrepreneurial Catapult: Startup to Storefront program.
"I quickly realized that we needed to develop something specific to that industry and with a strong focus on the local, Black food economy and now we have Catapult: Culinary," says Thompson. "I'm very proud of our team and the amazing partners who will be helping us deliver a program that I believe will be life-changing for many entrepreneurs."
The program will offer participants a variety of support and assistance, including one-on-one mentoring with business consultants, monthly educational seminars, and future access to commercial kitchen space with Fulton Commons, as well as access to Food 21 Food and Beverage Network, and food packaging services with Community Kitchen.
Catapult Culinary has also launched a partnership with the regional supermarket chain Giant Eagle, which will assist entrepreneurs with "food industry expertise and mentoring with the possibility of in-store product placement and pop-up demonstration spaces."
Lachelle Binion, director of entrepreneurship at Catapult Greater Pittsburgh, believes the program helps to further the nonprofit's mission of creating equity in the region.
“Black entrepreneurs face unique challenges and systemic barriers to small business success,” says Binion. “Our goal with the Catapult Greater Pittsburgh - Catapult Culinary program is to continue to create innovative programming, opportunities, and experiences that help break those barriers and ensure systematically disenfranchised communities can achieve economic justice in the area of entrepreneurship and beyond.”