Black-owned business incubator in Cleveland gears up for grand reopening

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland business incubator GlenVillage barely got off the ground in February last year before COVID shut it down. Now, more than a year later, several local black-owned small businesses will celebrate a grand reopening this weekend.

“We got food, clothing, jewelry, barbershop, everything that you’re looking for. What you want is down here,” said Antonio Stewart, owner of Premier Barber Lounge.

The mixed use residential and retail development located on E. 105th in Glenville will host a relaunch for the public Saturday, Nov. 13 between noon and 3 p.m. with the goal of reintroducing services available to the community.

“We were trying to create a space… where the community would feel comfortable,” said LaRese Purnell, managing partner of CLE Consulting Firm and operations manager for the incubator. “They would feel like it was home, that it would look like them. There would be services that they actually need within the community.”

The Shops at GlenVillage is part of Mayor Jackson’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, where local partners provide new entrepreneurs with space to build their business, along with mentorship and financial guidance.

“They were helping us with funding and keeping afloat during the pandemic while times were hard,” said Stewart.

At GlenVillage, the goal is to better connect the people in and around the neighborhood to Black-owned businesses investing in the community.

“They’re educators outside of the educational system because kids come here, they learn,” Purnell said of the business owners in the incubator. “They get to see people that look like them, possible mentors that they can get a job from. A lot of these business owners will go back and do things in the community as well.”

Since the COVID shutdown, GlenVillage opened with some new additions.

“I’ve actually been online for seven years, extremely grateful for this opportunity,” said Brittany Nichols, owner of House of B Jewels. “I wanted to have a storefront for a very long time. Just being an entrepreneur kind of not knowing what I was doing, the incubator has put me in an opportunity to learn how to scale my business.”

City council member Kevin Conwell was on site Thursday, eager to share his support.

“This is great because it’s going to help us stimulate more businesses and houses in the community,” said Conwell. “So, we’re very, very happy about it.”

“This is the type of front-end investment that we need because the court is a back-end investment,” said Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate Retanio Rucker.

Purnell, who assists in operations management of GlenVillage, said the community’s continued support is critical to allow for potential future investments in the area.

“It was just necessary that they saw some great things happening in their community, as well as they saw cranes being lifted in other parts of the community,” said Purnell. “Everybody should be able to walk out their door and have access not just to opportunity, but access to great resources a great partners.”

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