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LEAP and PNC Foundation Celebrate Completion of Inaugural Groundbreaking Black-business Accelerator Program – Elevate

Elevate Program’s First Cohort Complete Six Months of Individualized Business Training, Resource Sharing and Community Building 

LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 12, 2023) — In December 2022, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) came together with community, funders, family and friends to celebrate the completion of the first Elevate Black-business accelerator program. This program was the first of its kind in the Lansing Region of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties and saw eight entrepreneurs growing and shaping their businesses through skill building, seminars and technical assistance from Best Practices Consulting Service.

“We are proud to be the first economic development organization in the state to launch a program focused on economic inclusivity, specifically for Black entrepreneurs,” said Tony Willis, chief equity development officer at LEAP. “We know that when Black businesses thrive, the economy thrives. The success these entrepreneurs achieved during the six-month program is only the beginning.”

The entrepreneurs who made up the first cohort were:

  • DeAnna Ray-Brown— Everything is Cheesecake
  • Donald Lovell— Trouble Shooters Technical Support
  • Eva Thompson— JEM Cleaning LLC
  • Lorin Cumberbatch— Skin Studio 211
  • Marcus Leslie— Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes
  • Nikki Thompson Frazier— Sweet Encounter Bakery & Cafe
  • Sidney McCalib— Next Up Michigan
  • Tiffany Nordé—Dancing with the Nordés

The Elevate program ran April to October of 2022, and the first cohort of entrepreneurs was pivotal in shaping the program for the entrepreneurs to come. LEAP, through generous funding from the PNC Foundation as part of its $88 billion nationwide Community Benefits Plan announced in 2021, will be able to complete an additional two years of programming for Elevate. Additional funding of $120,000 dollars came from Ingham County to bolster Ingham participant’s businesses.

“PNC’s support of LEAP’s continued diverse programming reflects our national main street bank values and commitment to the communities where we conduct business,” said Timothy Salisbury, PNC regional president for Mid-Michigan. “The Elevate program is an example of what can be accomplished through strong public-private partnerships.”

“While LEAP continues its global efforts to grow the Lansing Region, we are working equally hard on improving inclusive entrepreneurial programming such as Elevate,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. “Both efforts, when combined, make for a regional magnet, attracting diverse business, jobs and people to our community and making it dynamic.”

The original goal for Elevate programming was to cover individualized business assessment, customized work plan development and one-on-one technical assistance. These goals were achieved, but due to the collaborative nature of the program—where entrepreneurs met monthly to idea share, learn and meet with Black executives— the structure widened to include skill building workshops for the specific needs of the businesses.

“The team at Best Practices comes to the table with the realization that each business has its own unique challenges, and each requires a plan that works for them,” said Laura Sigmon, owner of Best Practices Consulting Services. “We are committed to eradicating barriers and supporting real growth for those fortunate enough to participate in Elevate.”

LEAP is already preparing and taking steps to ensure a successful second year of programming. Applications for Elevate’s second cohort will be open Feb. 1 until Feb. 24, 2023.

For more information on the members of the inaugural cohort and the program visit LEAP’s website at www.purelasing.com/elevate.