Independence Mall rolls out program to jumpstart minority-owned businesses

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Throughout the pandemic, 66 percent of minority-owned small businesses risked permanent closure in the U.S. For the next five years, Wilmington’s Independence Mall and its parent company, Brookfield Properties hope to jumpstart those businesses through their Partner to Empower program.

“Diversity is not only good for our shopping centers, but it’s good for communities,” said Brookfield Properties Regional VP, Michelle Isabell. “You know, the world is changing everyday. And diversity in our communities only helps to be more successful.”

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The program provides two important resources to minority-owned businesses: funding and training. The program has 25 million dollars ready to help businesses expand in Independence Mall and other locations. It will also offer a workshop with experts in almost every business field.

“We want them to be with us for years and years. So giving them the knowledge to understand how to run their businesses so that they are successful is part of this program and very important.”

The program is open to all minority business owners, including those with stores already in the mall. It’s something MMA Fighter and store owner, Derek Brunson said is a win-win.

“Just the way things are these days,” said Brunson, “these malls have got to be diverse and need a whole bunch of things to get people to come out. You know, I think it could be a good hang out spot for people to enjoy and shop in.”

Drawing in businesses from all backgrounds, and more customers with new and diverse stores.

“This kind of local business and small business is definitely going to bring people in to shop,” said owner of custom stations, Abdallah Nouh.

“Definitely. Definitely,” said a customer. “We need more stations like this in the mall.”

With almost 450 applicants, new businesses and opportunities at the mall could soon follow.

“It’s good. You know whenever you can add more diversity and variety to business, it always works for good. So I think it’s a good program they implemented… and I’m looking forward to how it takes off.”