(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development celebrated the ribbon cutting of The Spice Suite, a gourmet seasoning and cookware company founded seven years ago in the Takoma neighborhood of Ward 4. The Spice Suite’s new home in the Langdon neighborhood of Ward 5 is part of owner Angel Gregorio’s larger vision: Black and Forth. Black and Forth is a block of commercial space that will house five Black, female-owned small businesses, including The Spice Suite, a nail salon, hair salon, brow bar, and braid bar.
“Black and Forth is a fantastic example of why we have programs like the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund. Because when we invest in our community, we create new opportunities for entrepreneurs like Angel to invest in and empower the community,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know we have the talent, creativity, and passion in DC; what people haven’t always had access to is the funding. We are changing that – with this fund, with the Black Homeownership Fund, with the Food Access Fund. With all of these funds, we’re investing in longtime Washingtonians and building opportunity-rich neighborhoods in all eight wards.”
The Spice Suite was opened as a small pop-up spice shop, but quickly became a dream incubator and haven for Black-business owners in DC. Over the last seven years, Gregorio hosted over 2,500 pop-ups led by 450 Black-business owners out of the old Spice Suite location. Black and Forth will continue to be a home to Black-business owners who want to use the space for free to sell their products.
The idea behind Gregorio’s community-centric business is to go back and forth with Black entrepreneurs – sharing space and support – hence the name Black and Forth. This form of community-building is precisely what the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund was intended for—to help entrepreneurs who face barriers to accessing capital buy commercial property in the District so that they can maintain and expand locations and build their legacies right here in DC.
“My goal is to show business owners what it looks like to lift as you climb,” said Angel Gregorio, owner of The Spice Suite. “Cooperative economics has to be something we actualize, not just a Kwanzaa principle.”
Mayor Bowser launched the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund in 2022 as part of a package of Legacy Initiatives developed to keep longtime residents and businesses in DC. The Commercial Property Acquisition Fund provides eligible DC-based businesses (equity impact enterprise businesses or businesses eligible to be a certified equity impact enterprise) with down payment assistance of up to $750,000 or 25% of the sale price, whichever is less, for acquiring commercial property in the District. An equity impact enterprise is a resident-owned, small business that it is at least 51% owned by an individual who is, or a majority number of individuals who are, economically disadvantaged or have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias.
“Mayor Bowser created the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund to empower small business owners just like Angel,” said John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “We are proud that Washington, DC has the highest percentage of Black-owned businesses in the nation. Now, we are using tools like the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund to keep businesses in DC and ensure even more businesses and employers in DC are Black-owned.”
The fund is administered by City First Bank, the largest Black-led bank in the country, through City First Enterprises. To date, the Bowser Administration has awarded $4 million in funding to 12 businesses through the first round of the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund.
The second round of the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund opened Friday, January 6. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until funds are expended. For questions regarding the grant and application, please contact [email protected].
For more resources and information on the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund and additional FY23 business funding opportunities, visit ObviouslyDC.com.