By Shirley Gouffon, Senior Vice President, Selig Enterprises and Midtown Development Review Committee Member Restaurants and retailers alike have been evolving over the last several years, but the pace of evolution has been decidedly robust since and during the recent COVID pandemic. There are some “silver linings” to be found within the pandemic, not the least of which is the transformation of the retail experience, particularly in Midtown, Atlanta. For the last decade or so, at the mere stroke of a key, the consumer has had many options available for both consumables and disposable products. Restaurants, particularly, pivoted during the pandemic and many of Midtown’s food and beverage establishments implemented take-out and delivery programs that were previously not widely employed, if at all. Delivery and curbside pick-up is here to stay, however, it should be noted that the desire for in-store retail experiences is on the rise with over 50% of Millennials claiming that much of their spending goes towards experiencing related products and services. Midtown Atlanta is a wonderful example of an urban environment which has been thoughtfully planned to attract “feet on the street” with its expansive sidewalks, lush landscaping and approachable storefronts. Moreover, experiential retail is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s consumer market. Creating a memorable shopping or dining experience through customer engagement is essential. Many brands with “flags” in Midtown, have very successfully transformed their businesses by offering “retailtainment” and immersive retail and dining experiences. Café Intermezzo, the European-inspired coffee house located in the heart of Midtown at Peachtree and 11th Streets, has long been considered an industry leader in creating authentic and memorable experiences for its patrons. Brian Olson, the CEO & Founder of Café Intermezzo, is considered an industry pioneer and was really on the cutting edge of experiential retail going back nearly 30 years. The Café Intermezzo experience transports the patron to a beautiful coffee house in Europe from the moment you enter. This experience has been thoughtfully executed through Brian’s discerning choice of décor, music, food presentation (a la “dessert tours”) and even foreign language instructional tape broadcasts. This proven formula has lured the patron back to Café Intermezzo for decades and is a shining example of the experiential retail phenomenon. Whether a resident, visitor or tourist, one has access to a host of memorable experiences unique to Midtown. An afternoon spent in Midtown today within a one-block radius may include: A leisurely walk down a beautiful tree lined street, lush with planters full of vibrant, cascading flowers, ripe with “Instagrammable” moments! Stopping in DryBar for a blow-out while sipping a chilled Rose’, followed by an indulgent and relaxing mani/pedi at Sugarcoat next door. A tour of the historic Margaret Mitchell House followed by a mid-afternoon stroll and people-watching from Café Intermezzo’s perch along Peachtree Street. Lastly, ending the day, as the sun is fading, atop Bulla Gastrobar’s scenic patio overlooking Midtown’s vibrant Crescent Avenue while feasting on a delicious array of tapas and enjoying a refreshing Sangria. We are all, at heart, social beings. And it is through Midtown’s commitment to promoting the pedestrian experience that the area will continue to thrive as Atlanta’s premier walkable experiential destination. This is sponsored content.
Authority Offering $3,000 Sign On Bonus; Will Train Permit & Class C License Holders for CDL MARTA will hold job fairs for bus operators and journeyman bus technicians on four upcoming Thursdays in July and August. The job fairs are July 7 and 21, and August 4 and 18, from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., at MARTA headquarters, located across from the Lindbergh Center rail station on Piedmont Road in Atlanta. MARTA is offering a $3,000 sign on bonus and will train all Permit and Class C (regular) license holders for their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). WHAT: Bus Operator and Journeyman Bus Technician Job Fair Pay starting at $17.74/hr. for operators and $23.91/hr. for technicians MARTA will train all Permit and Class C (regular) license holders for their CDL $3,000 sign on bonus COVID-19 vaccination required for employment WHEN: Thursdays – July 7 & 21 and August 4 & 18 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. WHERE: MARTA Headquarters 2424 Piedmont Rd. NE Atlanta, Ga. 30324 BUS OPERATOR REQUIREMENTS: Seeking full-time and part-time operators Must be 21 years of age or older Must have high school diploma or equivalent Must have current Class C (regular) license Must pass physical exam and ability test, and drug/alcohol screening JOURNEYMAN BUS TECHINICIAN REQUIREMENTS: Must be 18 years of age or older Must have high school diploma or equivalent Must have current Class C (regular) license Must have completed auto, transit bus, diesel, or maintenance programs, or have three or more years of comparable work experience Applicants are encouraged to ride MARTA to the event. The job fair will be held at MARTA headquarters, which is located across the street from Lindbergh Center Station. Free parking is also available in the nearby MARTA parking deck. Check for upcoming career fairs and employment opportunities by visiting MARTA (itsmarta.com) or calling 404-848-5544. This is sponsored content.
Every year, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) hosts the Delta Air Lines Insights on Leadership speaker series inviting Atlanta’s most impactful and key business leaders for prominent discussion. MAC President and CEO Katie Kirkpatrick recently sat down with Deluxe President and CEO Barry McCarthy at Deluxe’s Fintech Innovation Center. McCarthy is an entrepreneur, internet, cloud and mobile payments pioneer, named to his position with Deluxe in November 2018. He is also the author of Small Business Revolution, How Owners and Entrepreneurs can Succeed and executive producer of Deluxe’s Emmy-nominated Small Business Revolution show on Hulu and Prime Video. During his time as president and CEO, McCarthy has led the transformation of Deluxe from a legacy check and business forms printer into a “Trusted Payments and Business Technology” company, processing nearly $3 trillion in annual payment volume, or roughly 15% of U.S. GDP. McCarthy highlighted that this is only the beginning, and the company will further strive to become a forward-thinking company with strategies and full departments committed to being digital-first. “Early next year our payments business will be the company’s largest [department] which is a pretty big milestone for a company that is 107 years old,” said McCarthy. “For the first time ever, we are going to have a business that is larger than our legacy business.” Deluxe has 4 million active small business customers and more than 4,000 clients from financial institutions. Their network also includes approximately 300 distributor franchises serving local businesses. “We’ve got a fantastic digital AP business, digital AR business and a HR Payroll business for small businesses that we support with 150,000 already accepting credit cards,” McCarthy said. The company was founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1915 and in the years following transformed from a check printer into a payments and data company. Deluxe opened a new technology center in Sandy Springs joining the metro Atlanta region’s cluster of Fintech companies. “We knew we were going to become a payment data company which means we had to be at the payment’s capital of the world. [Atlanta] is truly the Fintech capital of the world,” McCarthy said. “At this very intersection [in metro Atlanta], about 80% of the world electronic payment transit companies are headquartered right here.” In addition to location, McCarthy and the Deluxe team enjoyed access to a supportive higher education ecosystem as well as local and state governments here in Atlanta. Many schools in the University System of Georgia offer degree programs for students in Fintech which opens doors for more jobs and expansion at Deluxe. “The University System of Georgia has gone so far to create a whole set of capabilities and degrees that support Fintech,” said McCarthy. “So, graduates are coming out of the entire system with capabilities ready for companies like ours.” When asked about the biggest risk he has taken in his career, McCarthy refers to becoming CEO and president of Deluxe. “I [was] at a pretty good spot, I wasn’t looking but [open] to opportunities,” said McCarthy. “It would’ve been a lot easier just to stay where I was, but I [wanted] the opportunity to do something and create lasting change.” McCarthy and the Deluxe team are looking forward to the future and seeing the exciting events ahead with partnerships, especially with Porsche. Deluxe will have their own company racecar in a global auto race coming soon to Atlanta. “We are the inaugural spot for Porsche Carrera Cup North America which is a global auto race series taking place this September here in Atlanta,” McCarthy said. For more information on the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Delta Air Lines Insights on Leadership, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/events/featured/insights-on-leadership This is sponsored content.
By A.J. Robinson President, Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District Congressman John Lewis gave us reason to celebrate his life, but, frankly speaking, it is not enough to revere him. We must instead emulate his actions. We must use his memory to not only seek the moral clarity that resided deep within him, but as an opportunity to reflect on the many questions one of the world’s greatest troublemakers asked his entire life — If not us, then who? If not now, then when? What legacy do you want to leave behind? These are questions that must be internalized, personalized, and answered by each and every one of us, regardless of race, political party, religion, or zip code. At this moment in our nation and history, there are many exciting conversations about the life of John Lewis, all equally as important as the other. But after the dialogue lessens, the commemorative bells stop ringing, the celebrations stop, and in between the national and global crises we face daily, each of us — all of us, will still be faced with answering those same fervent questions. He left us with a modernized blueprint for kindness and a reminder that we have a responsibility to care for our common home and guidance on how to pass the torch and engage future generations. Thank you, Congressman for reminding us that the legacy belongs to all of us. Thank you for helping us reimagine the legacy. May you rest in power. REIMAGINING THE LEGACY My team at Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District has spent time reflecting on the organization’s relationship with the Congressman, whose district office was located in the heart of downtown Atlanta at 100 Peachtree Street, and who was a longtime friend and supporter of our work. We thus felt it fitting and proper that, as an organization known for creating opportunities to convene people in Downtown, honoring Congressman Lewis with a community-wide celebration was a perfect way to observe the one-year anniversary of his passing. Further, we sought to create an experience in which people could reflect on legacy, learning, and action in spaces directly impacted by his leadership and vision. And so, we hope you’ll make plans to attend “Reimagine the Legacy,” a celebration of the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis on Saturday, July 30, beginning at 10 a.m. Details can be found at: www.reimaginethelegacy.com. This is sponsored content.
ULI Atlanta recently graduated 10 Etkin Scholars from Atlanta’s first cohort. Last year, ULI Atlanta was one of five district councils selected to participate in the ULI Etkin Scholar Program. The program is designed to introduce college and university students with a real estate interest and degree focus to the resources available through ULI membership while integrating those students into the ULI path of learning. Students in the program were from Emory University, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State and Morehouse College. The Atlanta Scholars had the opportunity to tour projects, meet local leaders and learn about career options, industry trends and challenges. One of the scholars, Gabby Oliverio took full advantage of the programming ULI had to offer. In a three-part blog series, Gabby writes about her impressions on attending Atlanta’s biggest industry events, from the ARC’s State of the Region, ULI Atlanta’s Trends in Real Estate, and the inaugural Emory University Real Estate Conference. Special thank you to ULI members and program leaders, Amanda Rhein, Keith Mack and Quinn Green. Congratulations to the 2022 Etkin Scholar graduates! Click here to learn more about the ULI Etkin Scholars Program. This is sponsored content.
By Jared Teutsch, Executive Director Three billion birds … that is the number of birds that have been lost since 1970. A groundbreaking study published in the journal Science in 2019 revealed that more than one in four birds have disappeared from our landscape in the past 50 years, including common birds, like Barn Swallows and Wood Thrush; grassland birds, like Eastern Meadowlarks; and migratory birds, like Baltimore Orioles. These are birds that we see fewer of outside our homes, in parks, and in landscapes all across Georgia, and birds that no longer provide ecosystem services, like pest control, or bring joy to those who enjoy watching them. Birds are declining due to a myriad of threats ranging from reflective glass and predation by outdoor cats to habitat loss and rampant use of pesticides. Birds are indicator species, and this study should sound the alarm for all of us, as the disappearance of these birds indicates a general shift in our ecosystems’ ability to support basic birdlife. But there’s good news, too. For species that have received conservation funding and attention, like waterfowl, hawks, and eagles, numbers have increased dramatically. Birds are resilient, and they can rebound with our help. The study recommends seven simple actions that everyone can take to help #BringBirdsBack. Make windows safer, day and night. Up to one billion birds die each year in the U.S. and Canada after colliding with windows. During the day, birds do not see glass as a barrier and are often confused by reflections of trees and shrubs, causing them to fly into buildings. At night, brightly lit buildings further confuse birds, resulting in additional collisions. But you can help by treating problem windows to break up the reflection. Solutions exist for problem windows, and bird-safe glass is readily available for new construction. By simply turning out the lights between the hours of midnight and 6:00 AM during peak migration each fall and spring, you can give birds a better chance of completing their migratory journeys. Learn more about Georgia Audubon’s work to prevent collisions and our Lights Out Georgia effort at www.georgiaaudubon.org/lights-out-georgia. Keep cats indoors. It is estimated that cats kill as many as 2.6 billion birds annually. Cats are instinctive, non-native predators and will hunt and kill birds, even when they are well fed. Keeping your cats indoors is better for their overall health and makes our landscapes safer for birds. Reduce lawn, plant native plants. Traditional turf grass lawns are nutritional deserts for birds and other wildlife, and the chemical load required to maintain them is bad for the environment. Consider replacing at least a portion of your lawn with native plants that will add interest and beauty while also creating food and resting habitat for birds and other wildlife. For a list of resources, visit www.georgiaaudubon.org/sanctuary-resources. Avoid pesticides. More than one billion pounds of pesticides are applied in the United States each year, and the most widely used pesticides are neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” that are lethal to birds and to the insects that birds consume. Purchasing organic produce when possible and reducing the pesticide use in your home, garden, and landscape is good for you and for the birds. Drink coffee that’s good for the birds. Your morning cup of coffee can help birds! Three quarters of the world’s coffee is grown on large, monoculture farms that destroy habitat in areas where many migratory Georgia birds spend their winter months. Shade-grown coffee is a delicious alternative that not only benefits the small coffee farmers who grow it, but these shaded farms also provide critical wintering habitat for more than 42 species of North American songbirds. Georgia Audubon partners with Café Campesino to offer a shade-grown organic coffee that is good for birds and people, too. Learn more at www.georgiaaudubon.org/coffee-and-chocolate. Protect our planet from plastic. Plastic is everywhere, in our homes, landfills, and, sadly, in our oceans and forests, too. Plastics take more than 400 years to degrade and 91 percent of plastic is not recycled, posing a threat to birds, marine mammals, and other wildlife that mistake it for food or become entangled in it. You can help by avoiding single use plastic whenever possible and choosing reusable items instead. Watch birds, and share what you see. Monitoring birds is critical to helping scientists determine what species of birds need help and how we can best support their populations. Gathering data on the world’s 10,000 bird species would not be possible without the help of community members who report what they’re seeing in the backyards, parks, and wild spaces. Through programs like eBird, Project FeederWatch, Christmas Birds Counts, and others, individuals can record what birds they are seeing and provide critical information for researchers studying bird populations. Learn more about how you can get involved at www.georgiaaudubon.org/community-science. If you’re interested in learning more about this groundbreaking study or implementing some changes to help birds, visit www.3billionbirds.org. You can also make a difference by becoming involved with Georgia Audubon … as a member, a donor, or a volunteer. Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. Whether you choose to drink shade-grown coffee, turn out the lights of birds, keep your cats indoors, or add a few native plants to your landscape, together we’re working to #BringBirdsBack. This is sponsored content.
Financial Literacy for All (FL4A) co-chairs, Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman, and CEO John Hope Bryant and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon co-wrote an op-ed piece for TIME entitled “Financial Literacy Education Could Help Millions of Americans”. The article lays out the case for a private sector push in creating a national framework for embedding financial literacy into the fabric of our society. Research shows that only about a third of Americans have a working understanding of interest rates, mortgage rates, and financial risk according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. And this measure of financial literacy has fallen 19 percent over the past decade. The American public is in need of a massive culture shift in regard to financial education and it’s going to take all of us to steer the ship and correct course. The need is so great that we cannot afford to leave it squarely in the hands of the government and public sector to provide a solution. The private sector must get involved and many of them have through the Financial Literacy for All (FL4A) movement. Financial Literacy for All is an inclusive, business-led movement aimed at helping more Americans reap the benefits that come from making more informed financial decisions. We have collectively made a 10-year commitment to reach millions of youth and working adults, providing them with the necessary tools and life experience to become more confident in making those critical economic choices. To date, FL4A has had 30 of some of the biggest names in business sign on the movement, signifying their affirmation and belief in our mission and their willingness to lend their talents and expertise in creatively reaching our lofty, yet obtainable goal. Some of these include the National Football League, The Walt Disney Company, Delta Air Lines, and several other leading financial institutions. Recently, FL4A announced investment services giant Edward Jones as the latest company to join the movement and we’re looking forward to many more commitments in the coming weeks and months. It’s time to make financial literacy a foundational stepping stone to achieving the American Dream, and we need everyone to be involved. To learn more about Financial Literacy for All or to join the movement, visit fl4a.org. This is sponsored content.
By Judy Monroe, MD In today’s news cycle you see a multitude of health threats—COVID-19, cardiovascular disease, monkeypox, opioids and more. However, there is one health threat facing each of us: the impact to health from our changing climate. At last week’s Aspen Ideas: Health Festival, the CDC Foundation was pleased to sponsor an enlightening panel session exploring these challenges. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, led off the session stating “I think we need to acknowledge that climate and health is going to be one of the great challenges that we have to face in the 21st century. I don’t really believe that everybody recognizes this intersectionality so it’s important to have these conversations.” Walensky was joined in the panel moderated by Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent, by Leah Thomas, author and founder of the Intersectional Environmentalist, and Marlene Wolfe, PhD, of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. Climate-related health threats include extreme weather, worsening air quality, rising temperatures, changes in the spread of infectious diseases, threats to food and water quality and quantity, and effects on our mental health. Building on this theme, Walensky said, “There’s air pollution that will lead to cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. There are issues like heat stroke, and that leads to 700 deaths a year and many hospitalizations.” But she noted other issues “related to drought, flood, fire, water borne outbreaks related to flooding, maybe flooding of wells. And tick-borne diseases—vector borne diseases have tripled in frequency and come earlier in seasons and broader across the United States.” Like so many health challenges, those communities most at risk to the health effects of a changing climate are those with the weakest infrastructures to prepare and respond to the threat. “It’s really important to consider who is being impacted the most by both climate injustice and health injustice and that intersection of environmental justice. Time and time again, it’s lower income and communities of color and also women,” said Thomas. “We can’t just say health and environmentalism are connected without acknowledging that Black, Indigenous, people of color, women and low-income populations bear the brunt of environmental injustice.” A popular narrative is that we have 50 or more years before we experience the most serious health impact from climate change, but Wolfe said this belief is not backed up by the science. “We’re here,” she said. “We have more and more outbreaks we are going to need to combat in the future and that we’re dealing with right now. For us to be able to come up with new, nimble, inclusive systems to track disease outbreaks, understand how infectious disease is impacting people around the world and how it does so inequitably, is extremely important.” To this point, Wolfe described forward-thinking work she is undertaking: “One of the things that we’ve done in my group over the past couple of years is focus on using wastewater to track infectious diseases so we can take less than a gram of solids from wastewater… and we can tell what is the burden of disease in a community,” Wolfe said. “That started with COVID because of the demand from the pandemic but now we’re expanding that into these threats that are coming.” In a development following the Aspen session, Wolfe’s team announced last week the detection of monkeypox for the first time in a wastewater sample in San Francisco. Importantly, Walenksy noted that there’s much we can do to confront the climate and health challenge by preparing communities. She highlighted CDC’s work in this regard. “We put together the Building Resilience Against Climate Effects, or BRACE framework,” she indicated. “BRACE is a five-point framework, and we deliver it to communities to say where are you in this framework about your vulnerabilities to climate effects and where do you need to bolster along this framework so we can be better prepared for a climate challenge that is headed in your direction.” Like so much in public health, CDC does not have the funding and resources to take BRACE to all communities. So, to help bolster CDC’s response, the CDC Foundation is advancing work to bring together partners to build capacity for communities, develop a national climate health workforce, build climate change leadership in public health, communicate the health impacts of a changing climate and transform the healthcare system for climate health. While the challenges are daunting, all of the panelists saw reasons to be hopeful, including the energy that youth bring to the climate challenge. I’m also encouraged and agree that youth will play a critical role in helping drive change and making progress. I’ll have more share on the role of youth in the coming months. I encourage you to take a moment to learn more about the CDC Foundation’s focus on climate and health and see a full recording from the panel session at the Aspen Ideas: Health Festival. The most recent episode of our podcast, Contagious Conversations, also introduces even more fascinating conversations we had with public health leaders—including CDC’s Dr. Patrick Breysse, Emory University’s Dr. Marlene Wolfe and Google’s Dr. Karen DeSalvo—on topics ranging from climate change to wastewater surveillance to restoring trust in public health. You can listen now on our website or wherever you get your podcasts, or visit YouTube to watch video from our interview with Dr. Breysse. Judy Monroe, MD, is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. This is sponsored content.
Westside Future Fund (WFF) is excited to be supporting thought leadership in the SaportaReport on Atlanta’s Historic Westside. At the October 15 Transform Westside Summit we announced the Westside Future Fund (WFF) PRI Program! A program-related investment (PRI) is low-cost capital that not-for-profit organizations can use to spur community development. Thanks to charitable support from Truist and PNC banks, WFF will provide low-cost loans to small, minority-owned businesses based in or serving the Historic Westside. This program builds on a pilot initially funded by AT&T and the Beloved Benefit. Our goal is to mobilize people with current, historical, or aspirational ties to the community to organically support the Westside’s economic development. The October 15 Transform Westside Summit highlighted the importance of economic empowerment of African American entrepreneurs with three special guest panelists – Courtney Smith from PNC Bank, Paul Wilson, Jr. from the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), and Keitra Bates of Marddy’s Shared Kitchen and Marketplace. A common theme from the panelists was the need for equity in access to capital for Black business owners. Keitra Bates noted that white startups have access to $100,000 from family, on average, while for black startups, it’s only $11,000. In June 2020, PNC Bank announced its bold $1 billion commitment to playing a role in combatting racism and discrimination. During the Summit, Courtney elaborated on PNC’s commitment to the Westside by helping end systemic racism by donating to WFF for program-related investments. Keitra Bates is a recipient of a WFF PRI that she used to renovate and expand her shared kitchen. Marddy’s focus is on economic inclusion, business development, and growth opportunities for local food entrepreneurs with their primary service groups of people of color, women, and other marginalized populations. With the help of RICE, the PRI recipients will have access to resources to innovate, grow, create jobs, and build wealth. Part business generator, innovation lab, and museum, RICE invests in African American entrepreneurs, strengthens businesses, and creates community. We have many miles to eliminate the wealth gap between white and black startups. Thanks to our panelists and the organization they represent, we are making progress and hopefully serving as models for others! Check out our newsletter to learn more about the October 15 Summit. This is sponsored content.
By Charles Sterne, Director of Homelessness at United Way of Greater Atlanta, and Lauren Wood, MARTA Market Director for Community Farmers Markets Food insecurity, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. In Georgia, according to Feeding America, 12% of the population was considered food insecure in 2019 and that number rose significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, including a 58% increase in food insecurity for children. During the heart of the pandemic, United Way of Greater Atlanta partnered with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to invest significant funds in agencies that were providing emergency food assistance and increasing access to food across the Metro Region. Now that we are no longer on the emergent side of the pandemic, United Way is continuing to focus on ways to improve access to food through investments in Economic Stability through our Basic Needs and Equitable Access pathway. In our most recent 2022 Child Well-Being Request for Proposals, we invested in agencies that are increasing access to healthy and affordable food in communities with low to very low Child Well Being. These are communities that are also often considered “food deserts”, meaning there is a lack of affordable and nutritious food that is easily accessible to residents. Community Farmers Markets (CFM), one of our newest grantees, has taken a creative and collaborative approach to food access through its MARTA Markets program, which sells local produce at transit stations in partnership with MARTA. According to Lauren Wood, MARTA Market Director for CFM, these markets “have become a vital community resource, providing over 250,000 pounds of fresh food to more than 180,000 customers” since their inception in 2015. These markets not only provide access to healthy food in convenient locations, but they also double the value of SNAP/EBT benefits for low-income individuals and families. In this way, the markets are not only contributing to customers’ health through provision of fresh fruits and vegetables, but they are also addressing financial stability for families by helping increase the value of public benefits. MARTA Markets has expanded into DeKalb County this year, and Ms. Wood said that “the United Way of Greater Atlanta funding will allow us to complete a new kiosk at Kensington Station, which is slated to open in August. Between Kensington and the recently opened location at the Doraville station, we anticipate increasing fresh food access for more than 2,500 people in those communities by the end of 2023.” We at United Way are proud to partner with Community Farmers Markets in these efforts that will help create a more food secure Atlanta region. We hope you will take the time to visit one of their 6—soon to be 7—locations this summer for some fresh, affordable and local food. This is sponsored content.
By Michelle Hiskey After a semester of research and analysis, the 24 students in Goizueta Business School’s Venture Capital and Minority Entrepreneurship class announced the first three investments for the Peachtree Minority Venture Fund (PMVF). This student-run venture fund is the first of its kind to make equity investments for U.S.-based and underrepresented Black, Latinx and An integral part of The Roberto C. Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the $1 million fund recently announced its first round of capital opportunities. Funding unique ventures An award of $25,000 was granted to CommunityX, a mobile-first social app that unites like-minded change-makers around shared causes. The app leverages traditional social media algorithmic thinking to be able to connect people and calls to action, such as petitions, events, donations and more. CommunityX also has received funding from TechStars “When our team found out that we were going to be a part of the Peachtree Minority Venture Fund portfolio, we were very excited for all the obvious reasons,” says founder and CEO Chloë Cheyenne, who describes herself as a multiracial young woman with Chicago, Illinois, roots. “Hearing firsthand from all of the Goizueta staff, students and founders about how much thought and intention went into building this fund, we are totally humbled to be a part of this community.” Ecotone Renewables of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earned a $15,000 award and is the maker of Soil Sauce, a liquid plant fertilizer organically produced from food waste. By making sustainable food and agriculture systems more accessible and prevalent outside the industrial scale, Ecotone is dedicated to building the tools necessary to empower communities to redevelop and grow through sustainable food practices. “We produce renewable energy through the extraction of biomass, as well as an organic, sustainable fertilizer,” said Ecotone Renewables CFO Elliott Bennett. “That fertilizer is our main focus as we look to empower communities. This is part of a sustainable form of agriculture because it allows new plants to grow. And really, it gives people the ability to be sustainable in the way that they plant, whether it’s on a farm or the garden.” An award of $15,000 also went to Atlanta-based FundStory, which helps finance teams access and manage nondilutive capital. This type of capital does not require a business owner to give up equity or ownership and is often essential to launching a startup. FundStory offers all-in-one workflow management software to help finance teams evaluate risk, automate funding options and manage financing into maturity. “I’m really appreciative for the opportunity and the commitment, and we’re excited,” FundStory CEO and co-founder Bobby Gilbert says. “We like to think of it as the operating system for not a lot of capital. Entrepreneurs don’t wake up and decide they’re going to go into debt. Prior to funding through us, they have to map out a plan, choose the right partner and manage financing into maturity. We set out to build a FundStory with a thesis of helping founders for each stage of their journey.” Reflecting on key takeaways The three entrepreneurs spoke at a reception for Goizueta Business School alumni, faculty, administration, staff and the students who operated the fund as managing partners and associates. The reception was hosted by the five managing partners who operate the fund alongside teams of senior associates and analysts. “We went through a lot of debate, and at the end of the day we made the most informed decisions we could,” says Humza Mirza, an MBA graduate and the fund’s managing partner for marketing and recruiting. “Did we get the right answer? Only time will tell. We are all taking a lot of learnings from getting the Peachtree Minority Venture Fund started.” The class is part of a new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) concentration for full-time MBA students, focusing on understanding factors that contribute to the gap in venture capital funding to underrepresented minority entrepreneurs and how this challenge might best be addressed. Students split into six teams, each assigned to find minority-owned startups in one sector: consumer products and goods, energy, fintech, health care technology, information technology and manufacturing. “Each of our teams worked tirelessly to make sure we have a strong pipeline going forward,” says Jack Semrau, an Evening MBA student and the fund’s managing partner for deal sourcing and portfolio management. “We worked through a very traditional process of what you see in other VC firms, to make sure that we find exceptional founders who showcased their know-how and their specific industry and product so that we could proceed to actually make an investment,” Semrau continues. “We couldn’t be happier to make the first round of investments that are part of the Peachtree Minority Venture Fund.” The fund grew from the work of Goizueta alumni who learned from local underrepresented entrepreneurs that access to capital was a major pain point and wanted to do something about it. But “As students, you can only do so much; you have to have a faculty or staff member that really believes in the idea,” says Goizueta alumnus Willie Sullivan. He joined the current MBA students in thanking supporters “who really believed in this and believed in our ability to make this happen.” One of those supporters is Robert Kazanjian, academic director of The Roberto C. Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “We are really good at finding interesting ways to take what might be a straight theoretical issue in the classroom and then having students experience it in a real setting,” Kazanjian says. “This is a big challenge for professional schools, how to manage that tension between theory and practice. I see this venture fund as absolutely working and think this is a great example of what Goizueta does well.” This is sponsored content.
YWCA of Greater Atlanta expresses deep concern, disappointment and outrage regarding the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. While we knew this outcome was a strong possibility, the formal ruling affirms the direction, not only of the Supreme Court, but of our country at this moment in history. YWCA of Greater Atlanta is committed to the elimination of racism and the empowerment of women. Our mission and vision direct us to center the experiences of women in all we do. The Supreme Court’s decision places severe limits on women’s choices to control their bodies. This decision runs counter to the will of the majority of Americans and represents the will of the few to turn back the clock on women’s rights. The deliberate denial and disregard of the reason why Roe v. Wade had to be adjudicated by the Nation’s Highest Court – because women could not receive consistent authority over their bodies through state legislation – is most concerning. This decision, borne out of the movement to enforce “states’ rights” is troubling for a number of reasons as we reflect upon how “state’s rights” impeded the acknowledgment of civil rights for all. We know the history of women’s limited choices prior to Roe v. Wade. We are also most concerned about the impact of this decision upon the freedom for reproductive justice decision-making. For example, the right to contraception is directly threatened by this decision. We know that the decision today will impact the rights of all women, but most significantly it will impact the lives of underserved women and women of color who will not have the means to travel to the limited number of states that may allow abortion. This decision further exacerbates the inequitable health care for marginalized women across this country. We stand in solidarity with the women we serve and those who choose to advocate on behalf of reproductive freedom and autonomy. Let’s use this moment to turn outrage into action! Below are some efforts we all can make to ensure abortion care, healthcare, our dignity and autonomy remain intact. Spread the word: Abortion is still legal in Georgia! Volunteer with the following reproductive health organizations: ARC-Southeast Feminist Women’s Health Center, Summit Medical, Carafem, and Atlanta Women’s Center; AbortionislegalinGeorgia Amplify Georgia Collaborative Ask all of your elected officials – local, state, and federal – what they are planning to do to protect and expand access to abortion care. Having a legal right to abortion is not the same as having access to it. That includes the following: Ask your state representatives to support the Reproductive Freedom Act (HR 669). Click here to learn more and to get involved in the campaign. Tell Your Member of Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act: Today’s decision clearly signals why we must protect providers offering abortion services and ensure abortions remain safe and accessible no matter your zip code. YWCA of Greater Atlanta stands in solidarity with nearly 200 local YWCA associations and YWCA USA in the belief that women and other childbearing people should have control over their own bodies. As we reflect on this nation celebrating its freedom, like the Pledge…we advocate for “liberty and justice for ALL.” – YWCA of Greater Atlanta This is sponsored content.