With a goal of bringing more diversity to its shopping centers across the country, Brookfield Properties’ Partner to Empower program looks to expand in 2022.
To kick off Black History Month, Brookfield Properties is opening applications on February 16 for the next round of Partner to Empower, a program that provides financial resources and retail expertise to Black and minority business owners looking to open a retail store. For Partner to Empower Vice President Michelle Isabel, it's been an emotional journey.
"Being able to impact a person, their business, and their family means a lot," says Isabel. "Prior to Partner to Empower’s launch, many of these businesses didn’t think they had a chance of opening their first brick and mortar. Black- and minority-owned businesses currently make up a small fraction of business owners in the U.S. We are committed to changing that.”
As a result of the program’s first launch, Brookfield Properties welcomed ten new minority-owned businesses to its shopping centers, including:
- CamiCakes bakery at Cumberland Mall
- Clay Luxury Kids children’s clothing store and Jerk Shop Go restaurant at Perimeter Mall
- Super Icy Brothers sweet Italian ice treats and Leslie’s Laundry Lockers dry cleaning service at Carolina Place
- Balloon Squad décor shop at Columbiana Centre
- Be’be Be’ton children’s boutique at Mall of Louisiana
- The Wood Shop barber shop at Governor’s Square
- Garner’s Sweet Dreams dessert shop in Augusta Mall
- B&R Waffle Bar at Town East Mall
Rounding out these success stories is House of Chimney Cake, coming soon to Parks Mall at Arlington.
For these and other upcoming retail businesses, Partner to Empower provides crucial funding needed to build out their mall spaces in Brookfield Properties’ shopping centers, as well as assistance in determining what type of physical space is right for their business.
The program’s 2021 cohort of 40 accepted participants were invited to an exclusive four-week Retail Workshop that provided them with access to a network of industry experts — including banks, businesses, and retail leaders — who shared their expertise on a variety of topics central to building a strong business model and operating a successful retail store.
“While funding support was probably top of mind for many of our participants, after hearing how impactful the Retail Workshop was to them, clearly the benefit of the program is about more than just money,” Isabel says. “It’s being able to learn from and network with and network with other business leaders and it’s also about supporting one another. The workshop really provides an opportunity for these entrepreneurs to bond, which is so important for their business growth and development.”
The retail group of Brookfield Properties has committed $25 million for Partner to Empower over the next five years. “Our first cohort of participants began in the Southeast region, but we’re just getting started,” says Isabel. “We hope to support more minority entrepreneurs and create more awareness about what we’re doing, which is to provide an opportunity for Black- and minority business owners to create generational wealth and a lasting legacy.”
Expanding nationwide this year, Partner to Empower will start accepting applications for select properties on February 16, with additional windows opening across the country throughout 2022.
“Partner to Empower is a fantastic opportunity to join our business with the communities we serve,” explains Jared Chupaila, CEO of Brookfield Properties retail business. “It’s also our chance to work together as an organization to use our expertise and resources to empower Black and minority entrepreneurs for success and in turn, be actively involved in the process of change. Together we can grow businesses and strengthen our communities. I’m proud of the businesses we’ve partnered with so far, and excited to watch the program continue to grow.”
For Atlanta-based Isabel, having the opportunity to empower minority entrepreneurs and watch their businesses thrive has been a life-enriching work project. “We had more than 500 applications last year,” she says. “Interviewing many of those candidates and hearing their stories has been a humbling and incredible experience. This program has made a tremendous impact on my own life.”
A reflection of Brookfield Properties’ commitment to fostering an inclusive and transparent culture for its communities, retailers, employees, consumers, and stakeholders, one of the goals of Partner to Empower is to bring more diversity to its shopping centers and better reflect their surrounding local communities.
Sign Up for Program Updates
We’re excited to announce the next window to submit applications opens February 16, 2022!
Complete this form to stay up-to-date on program news, application windows throughout the year, and more.
Plus, check out these additional resources that can also support the growth of your business.