Louisville KY, (August 26, 2022)—In celebration of National Black Business Month, the Louisville Urban League today unveiled PNC Entrepreneur Plaza, a dedicated venue at the Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center where Black businesses can market their goods and services to guests visiting the campus.

The development of PNC Entrepreneur Plaza, which includes both indoor and outdoor space for pop-up marketplaces, is among the outcomes of a $1 million, three-year grant from the PNC Foundation. The multi-year grant, announced in August 2021, supports the League’s delivery of educational and technical support for entrepreneurship and workforce development at its Sports and Learning Campus.

“The League’s Sports and Learning Campus has always been about more than sports; it allows us to leverage sporting events to fuel investment in the community,” said Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League. “Black businesses will now have the opportunity to sell their products and services to visitors drawn to the facility for track meets, concerts and other local, regional and national events.”

Louisville Tourism projects that an event like the recently announced 2023 ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held at the Norto  Healthcare Sports & Learning Center, will generate $2.2 million in economic impact for the region. The commerce opportunities afforded by PNC Entrepreneur Plaza will help ensure a portion of this spending stays in the local  community, with Black entrepreneurs directly benefiting. 

“As a Main Street Bank, PNC is committed to leveraging the power of our resources to help all move forward financially, and we maximize our local impact by collaborating with community organizations like the Louisville Urban League,” said Kristen Byrd, PNC regional president for Louisville.“ The development of PNC Entrepreneur Plaza demonstrates what is possible when community stakeholders work together in pursuit of a shared goal, which in this case is to empower local entrepreneurs and strengthen the economic well-being of West Louisville.”

The premise of PNC Entrepreneur Plaza builds on the demonstrated success of the League’s early efforts to create space for pop-up marketplaces for local entrepreneurs. Three beneficiaries of these opportunities, including Ausha Hilliman, owner of Julee’s Mocha Coffee Shop; Aaron Williams, owner of Chicago’s Jerk Tacos; and Lisa Bennett of Gye Nyame Books & More, were on hand during today’s celebration event. All three businesses participated in pop-up marketplace events at the Sports and Learning Campus, using the experience to generate sales, test the market feedback for their products and refine their business offerings. Each now proudly boasts physical retail stores in Louisville’s west end.

“I have been fortunate to see firsthand the benefit this facility can have on a growing business,” said Williams, who now has a storefront location directly across the street from the Sports & Learning Center. “The Urban League invited our food truck to several events and not only were we able to make a profit, but it assisted us in building our brand and establishing more business relationships in the community which has led to greater success. I am sure this new facility's presence in the community will assist other entrepreneurs in the area as well.”

The grant supporting the development of PNC Entrepreneur Plaza is part of PNC’s nationwide $88 billion Community Benefits Plan, which is inclusive of a previously announced commitment of more than $1 billion to support the economic empowerment of Black and low- and moderate-income communities.

“When we built the Sports and Learning Campus, we spent more money with Black-owned businesses than any capital project we can find in Kentucky,” said Reynolds. “It matters who we spend money with. It mattered during construction, and it matters now as we operate.

The PNC collaboration is another example of being intentionally inclusive ─ making certain that Black residents and Black businesses benefit from the economic magnet we have created in the west end.”

Business owners interested in getting involved can register with the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Louisville Urban League by visiting https://lul.org/blackbusiness or calling (502) 585-4622.