BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new program hopes to attract more Black-owned businesses to Baltimore’s downtown.

“We want to make sure the demographics of downtown Baltimore are representative of the demographics of our city,” said Shelonda Stokes, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

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The Black-Owned and Occupied Storefront Tenancy program will give up to $50,000 in grants to five Black-owned businesses. It will also give business owners connections to help with marketing, accounting and other needs.

“Black-owned businesses have half the investment and start-up than any other type of firm,” Stokes said.

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore said the program will also help fill empty storefronts which increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Currently, a recent report found only around 10% of privately-held businesses in the area were Black-owned.

“I know that this program will inspire, uplift and support many of our Black businesses here in Baltimore,” Mayor Brandon Scott said.

To learn more or to apply, click here. Applications are due by March 10.

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CBS Baltimore Staff