The city of Tulsa, Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) and Tulsa Development Authority (TDA) announced plans Thursday to provide $4 million to support the Greenwood Entrepreneurship Incubator @ Moton (GEIM) in north Tulsa.
The Tulsa City Council is expected to vote on the budget amendment authorizing the expenditure at its regular meeting Wednesday.
The $4 million budget amendment will include $2.5 million to redevelop the historic Morton Health Center (later renamed to Morton Comprehensive Health Services) at Pine Street and North Greenwood Avenue into an incubator space and $500,000 to support the launch of MORTAR Tulsa, a 15-week TEDC accelerator course where entrepreneur cohorts develop ideas into businesses.
The amendment also will include $1 million to seed the Build Tulsa Fund, a pool of financial resources for businesses participating in GEIM, MORTAR, and other programs for under-resourced entrepreneurs building in north Tulsa.
“GEIM will couple a beautifully restored location with culturally-competent curricula, access to capital and other knowledge resources that will nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of Black Tulsans for years to come,” TEDC Chief Executive Officer Rose Washington said in a statement.
“TEDC is grateful for the opportunity to lead this project in partnership with other organizations that support small businesses as engines of economic development, job creation and wealth building.
“We are excited to help celebrate the spirit of Historic Black Wall Street in a historic space where greatness was literally birthed through the lives of many Black Tulsans.”
The budget amendment will be funded through state reimbursements backed by COVID-19 relief funds. TEDC expects to start project design later this year.
“From distributing millions in COVID-relief loans to supporting local entrepreneurs, TEDC Creative Capital is an invaluable resource to Tulsa’s small business community,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement. “I am thrilled to continue our work with Rose Washington and her team to launch GEIM and see its success in the coming years.”
GEIM’s three-part program includes a physical incubator space at the historic Morton Health Center on North Greenwood Avenue and East Pine Street. The space will serve as an entrepreneurial accelerator program operated by MORTAR Tulsa and the Build Tulsa Fund to provide financing opportunities to entrepreneurs in north Tulsa. GEIM will provide the space, training, networking and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs to build their business and create new jobs for Tulsans.
“For far too long, black entrepreneurs have not had access to the space and resources to turn their ideas into thriving businesses,” District 1 City Councilor and Council Chair Vanessa Hall-Harper said in a statement.
“GEIM will create an ecosystem of support and accelerate the revitalization of Greenwood and help rebuild the legacy of Black Wall Street by providing a hub of entrepreneurship where Black Tulsans can find the support and financing essential to launching their small businesses to create economic opportunity and build generational wealth.”
GEIM is part of the larger future development of the mixed-use Morton’s Reserve at the historical Morton Health Center. In addition to GEIM, Morton’s Reserve is scheduled to include single- and multi-family housing and retail space. Both GEIM and Morton’s Reserve are in the planning phase with additional design details anticipated this summer.
TEDC and MORTAR Tulsa are currently accepting applications for their first and second cohorts in their entrepreneurial accelerator. Cohort 1 launches July 7 and Cohort 2 starts Sept. 1. The program costs $295 and scholarships are available to all applicants.
For more information about MORTAR Tulsa and how to apply, visit tedcnet.com/learning/mortar/.