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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Amping up Black businesses

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The Flanner House has transformed a space that used to be home to a library branch into a retail and community space that now features a gallery wall with historical depictions of people of African descent.

The Flanner House opened the Ujamaa Community Bookstore primarily featuring books and other gift items created by Black people as part of their annual Juneteenth celebration. The bookstore, boasting both retail and gathering space, welcomes all ages and is part of a larger strategy to spark economic development and growth in the area with community members.

Supported in part by a grant from the 16 Tech Community Investment Fund, this new neighborhood gem unapologetically honors and celebrates the Black culture the neighborhood is working hard to preserve.

We also celebrate Black business owners with this week’s opening of The AMP, a new artisan marketplace and food hall within the 16 Tech Innovation District. More than a year ago, the 16 Tech team set out to secure retail and food businesses to occupy spaces in the new artisan marketplace and food hall.

It was important that vendors reflect the broader community and demonstrate the inclusion we seek to grow in the district. The team intentionally connected with diverse business owners and now celebrates 65% of businesses led or owned by people of color and women. This lineup includes the following Black business owners:

· Andres BBQ & Seafood — barbecue and soul food favorites, as well as seafood

· Boba and Everything — Bubble tea and other specialty made-to-order drinks and locally made bagels

· Healthy Soul — Health-conscious farm-to-table soul food on the go as well as meal prep and catering

· Innova Wings and Greens — A fusion of family recipes and traditional chicken wings, greens and sides inspired by some of your comfort food favorites

· The Food Architect Natural Drink and Sea Moss Bar — Natural, whole fruit, herb-infused drinks, Alkaline water, sea moss and herb mixes that support a healthy lifestyle

· PB & J Factory — A sandwich shop and cereal bar that injects fun into food

· Punkin’s Pies — Decadent bakery items like fan favorites chocolate dipped fruit and gourmet apples 

· Melon Kitchen (coming soon) — A delivery-only restaurant accelerator designed for local black chefs to help them scale their businesses

Other businesses owned and led by people of color and women include Azucar Morena, Circle City Sweets, Fresko, Limon, Mambo’s Cheesesteaks, Poke Guru and Waterway Fish Market.

Join us for the opening week celebration including: Neighbor Night from 5-7 p.m. June 24, DJ Mr. Kinetik from 6-10 p.m. June 25, live music from 7-10 p.m. June 26, and brunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 27.

The building will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays, and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays for special events only. Specific vendor hours vary. For more information check out theampindy.com or follow @theampindy on Instagram.

Starla Hart is the director of community initiatives at 16 Tech Community Corporation and a contributor to the Indianapolis Recorder. Contact her at shart@16tech.com.

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