West Baltimore

Rooting Entrepreneurs in Commercial Spaces

Empowering Entrepreneurs

Our project will empower ten businesses to successfully secure and transition to commercial spaces in West Baltimore for retail and manufacturing. By doing so, these entrepreneurs will bring new or expand existing products and services that meet an established need in the community, while also creating jobs, generating economic activity into and within the neighborhood.

Our Approach

To support these entrepreneurs, we will align our growing relationships with West Baltimore community partners, commercial real estate owners, partners across the city and our unique assets including 100+ executive mentors, technical assistance, cohort-based training programs, and capital via our Ignite Capital investment fund.



Lady Brion, Founder and Executive Director of Black Arts District

Tailored Support for Black Entrepreneurs

Providing tailored support to Black entrepreneurs interested in securing commercial space in West Baltimore will lead to increased tenancy rates, neighborhood job growth, increased local incomes, and a more equitable, sustainable neighborhood economy in West Baltimore neighborhoods where:

Access to Exclusive Spaces

Black entrepreneurs, representing a broad range of industries, gain access to commercial space to which they have been historically excluded.

Economic Growth in West Baltimore

There is greater economic growth within West Baltimore, with more money flowing into and throughout the neighborhoods driven by social enterprise presence and activity.

Improved Quality of Life

The quality of life improves within West Baltimore, with residents having increased access to stable jobs that provide living wages and benefits  thereby increasing collective household income.

Community Revitalization Increases

There is greater community revitalization, with increased financial and personal interest in developing physical assets (new or rehabbed buildings, homes, community centers, schools, parks, etc.) within West Baltimore.

Previous Efforts to Support Businesses in Commercial Spaces

Zehbras Fitness Club

Jeanelle Spencer

Fitness Club offers group classes, personal training, and nutrition consulting in Baltimore's Waverly area. Zehbras, owned by Jeanelle Spencer, PhD, promotes a balanced lifestyle via CrossFit. Ignite Capital funded its buildout, turning a vacant building into a welcoming fitness center.

Quincy Goldsmith

Stem & Vine is an upscale brand rooted in plants, wine, art, and community. Ignite Capital financed their inventory and supported them through opening delays. Their educational presence, both in-store and online, enriches the community’s experience, ensuring a successful launch.

Citywide Youth Development (CYD) combats crime and poverty by training Baltimore youth in manufacturing and entrepreneurship. With support from Ignite Capital, Citywide Youth Development created 18 workforce opportunities within the Frozen Desert Sorbet line of business.

How We Support Social Entrepreneurs


We offer executive mentorship to help entrepreneurs develop the skills and knowledge for business success.

Identifying Properties

Our organization assist in finding and securing suitable commercial spaces tailored to the needs of each business.

Resource Providers

Entrepreneurs are connected with a network of specialized resource providers for industry-specific support.

Access to Capital

We facilitate access to funding through grants, loans, and investment opportunities to remove financial barriers to growth.

Focus Corridors: Pennsylvania Avenue and West North Avenue

Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in West Baltimore in successfully transitioning into commercial spaces for retail and manufacturing. Our focus is on the commercial corridors of West North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, areas rich in cultural heritage and poised for economic revitalization.

By concentrating our efforts on these key corridors, we aim to stimulate local economies, create job opportunities, and enhance the vibrancy of these historic neighborhoods.

Our Community Partners

Black Arts District

The Black Arts District is committed to empowering Black creatives and advancing community-based revitalization efforts in West Baltimore. Through an anti-displacement framework, the Black Arts District fosters cultural, artistic, and entertainment initiatives that enhance the vibrancy of the community. This organization plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of West Baltimore.


West North Avenue Development Authority (WNADA)

The West North Avenue Development Authority (WNADA) is dedicated to the holistic well-being of the West Baltimore community. By serving as a portal for health and wellness, WNADA takes responsibility for improving community health through comprehensive care management, enhancing workforce development, providing access to healthy food, and offering family support services. WNADA engages with the community at all levels by embodying the principle of Caring Bravely.


Baltimore Main Streets

The Baltimore Main Streets Program uplifts local businesses, provides them with developmental resources, and spotlights neighborhoods throughout the City. The Baltimore Main Street program follows the Main Street America approach centered around transformation strategies organized as four points: Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization.


Project Timeline

Our project timeline is designed to ensure a structured and comprehensive approach to supporting social entrepreneurs:

Opportunities To Engage

We firmly believe that this effort will be successful because of the collaborative spirit and collective belief, by many, that Baltimore’s future is bright and can benefit all residents. Core to our values at Innovation Works is weaving unlikely networks together to drive at our long term vision. Examples of partnerships for this initiative include:

Pro Bono Resources

to support businesses, such as financial planning, construction buildout, architectural planning and designs, legal support, patient financial capital, etc. 

Paid Resources Partner

to support businesses in their process of entering a commercial space, including local businesses who provide services such as graphic design, signage creation, etc. 

Capital Allocators

to participate alongside Ignite Capital to provide patient and catalytic capital to support the businesses during the ramp up phases and ensure long term viability of their business model growth. Types of capital sources could include angel investors, philanthropy, traditional lenders, venture etc.

Other Information to Know

For more details, visit our FAQs page

For media inquiries Contact: Denise Cooper at Denise@iwbmore.org
If you have any questions about this initiative or are looking for ways to contribute partner or benefit, please contact us using the form below.