New Business Incubator provides mentoring and technical training for 15 minority owned entrepreneurs

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Catapult Culinary’s inaugural program offers mentoring, future kitchen facilities, seminars and technical training to 15 local food entrepreneurs. The City of Pittsburgh and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh have selected the cohort for the 12-month program Catapult in the greater Pittsburgh area.

Businesswoman Lisa Freeman of Freeman Family Farm in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Manchester said the program is important because it combats racial differences in the food industry by helping black entrepreneurs.

“There are a lot of things we can’t use in running businesses, and this is a great alternative to help us build and grow,” said Freeman.

The program begins in August, and Freeman hopes that a new cohort will be selected next year to carry on the mission and inspire younger generations. Of the 15 businesses, 14 are black-owned, 10 female-owned, two veteran-owned, and one Latin-owned.

“Black entrepreneurs face unique challenges and systemic barriers to small business success,” said Lachelle Binion, director of entrepreneurship at Catapult Greater Pittsburgh, in a statement. “Our goal with the Catapult Greater Pittsburgh – Catapult Culinary program is to continue to create innovative programs, opportunities, and experiences that help overcome these barriers and ensure that systematically disenfranchised communities achieve economic justice in entrepreneurship and beyond reachable.”

Freeman said the opportunities offered by the incubator will allow her to grow her business and brand. She said she hoped to make her own hot sauce.

“I hope the Catapult Culinary experience gives me all of this extra support,” said Freeman. “And hopefully expand into something over my limit.”

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