The inaugural Catapult Culinary business incubation program will offer mentorship, future kitchen spaces, seminars and technical training to 15 local minority food-based entrepreneurs. The City of Pittsburgh and Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh selected the cohort for the 12-month program through Catapult Greater Pittsburgh.
Entrepreneur Lisa Freeman of Freeman Family Farm in Pittsburgh’s Manchester neighborhood said the program is important because it fights the racial disparities of the food industry by supporting Black entrepreneurs.
“There’s a lot of things we can’t take advantage of in running businesses, and this is a good alternative to help support us build and grow,” Freeman said.
The program begins in August, and Freeman said she hopes there will be a new cohort chosen next year to continue the mission and inspire younger generations. Of the 15 businesses, 14 are Black-owned, 10 are woman-owned, two are veteran-owned and one is Latino-owned.
“Black entrepreneurs face unique challenges and systemic barriers to small business success,” Lachelle Binion, director of entrepreneurship at Catapult Greater Pittsburgh said in a statement. “Our goal with the Catapult Greater Pittsburgh – Catapult Culinary program is to continue to create innovative programming, opportunities, and experiences that help break those barriers and ensure systematically disenfranchised communities can achieve economic justice in the area of entrepreneurship and beyond.”
Freeman said the opportunities provided through the incubator will allow her to grow her business and brand. She said she’s hoping to make her own hot sauce.
“I’m hoping that the Catapult Culinary experience will give me all those additional supports,” Freeman said. “And hopefully expand into something higher than my limit.”