BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport expands launch pad program


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Five local minority-owned micro-retailers recently opened at Thurgood Marshall International Airport in Baltimore/Washington. The new businesses are part of the innovative Launch Pad program, which provides unique opportunities for local entrepreneurs to start a retail business at BWI Marshall Airport. The initiative also improves the shopping experience for travelers and provides passengers with an exciting way to support small businesses in Maryland.

Starting and growing a small business is a tough business. Now in its fifth year, the Launch Pad program was created to help reduce the barriers traditionally associated with starting a small business in the airport environment. The airport and its concession developer provide merchandising units, training, mentoring, signage, electrical installation, and sales and marketing support with area business partners. The robust business development toolset is designed to help emerging business owners succeed.

“It’s inspiring to see small businesses take off at the airport,” said Ricky Smith, Executive Director of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. “The Launch Pad program gives startups and small business owners the opportunity to not only share their products and services, but also their unique stories with a wider audience of airport travelers. We are excited to continue this program and offer more retail options to BWI Marshall passengers.

New micro business openings go through an intense screening process and extensive training. Local entrepreneurs gain access to the extensive and successful concessions program with reduced investment and are offered the opportunity to operate their business at a world-class airport with millions of annual passengers.

The five businesses in the Launch Pad 2022 class include Everything Blings Boutique, Messy Buddha and Plum Good in Concourse D, WELL TRVLD in Food Zone A/B, and New Secrets Tea in Concourse B. The stores offer a variety of products elegant. clothing and accessories, handmade candles, exotic spices, personalized clothing and natural herbal teas.

Launch Pad companies are trained and coached on running a successful airport retail store. Micro-business owners have the opportunity to enter the dynamic airport market in the short term and grow their brand without the need for substantial start-up capital or time to build a full business unit. Applicants are selected from many small business applicants vying for the opportunity.

“The Launch Pad initiative was created to ensure start-up companies have access and opportunity through our airport retail program,” added Executive Director Smith. “We are excited to bring new, smaller, local operators to the airport to serve our customers.”

An important key objective of the Food and Retail Program at BWI Marshall Airport is to ensure a diverse and inclusive program that provides excellent opportunities for disadvantaged small businesses. Launch Pad creates special opportunities for local entrepreneurs to launch their small business in the large-scale retail environment of airports.

Minority Businesses/Expanding Opportunities Coverage

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This article is featured in the 2022 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses which was published September 23. diversity, entrepreneurship, and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Learn more about Expanding Opportunities or read the digital edition.

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