Waverly's Gateway Building with wrap around mural completed by muralist, Gaia.

Six entrepreneurs will be selected to receive rent-free commercial space in the Waverly Business District through a business pitch contest.

Local, family-owned real estate developer Barrus Real Estate Group created Growing Greenmount to renovate a commercial area between the 29th and 34th blocks of Greenmount Avenue.

The real estate group, which has a “mission to restore aging neighborhood commercial areas,” has paired with major partners for the “Root to Success” contest to give small businesses a chance to grow while they revitalize the community’s business district. 

The contest will begin with a pre-review panel that will review each submission, eliminate those do not meet requirements, and select semifinalists.

In the next round a panel made up of local entrepreneurs and non-profit members will choose 12 businesses from the semifinalist group, including eight retail and four office-based businesses. These finalists will be selected based on their financial feasibility, business concept, and fit for the Waverly community. The 12 finalists will then participate in a pitch contest to present their business plan to another panel of judges and community associations.

Based on the presentations and the community’s needs, a panel comprising local stakeholders will select the final six contest winners.

Winners will be announced on Friday, June 26. 

From the six winners, two office-based businesses will be awarded fully furnished one- or two-person office suites at the OfficeFlex Executive Center, located at 3030 Greenmount Ave., which will feature conference room space, a café, and a full-service copy and ship center.

Four retail businesses will be selected to take over the Waverly Gateway building, located at Greenmount Avenue and Old York Road. The space, which was vacant for more than a decade, is now a multi-tenant building that’s been newly painted with a mural by Baltimore muralist Gaia.

In addition to free rent for 12 months, the entrepreneurs will also receive funding to build out their space. Additionally, all six contest winners will receive business management training and support including marketing, mentoring, legal advice, financing assistance, space design, and more.

The contest is open to new and existing small businesses, as well as those with a developing business concept. All applicants must clarify their products or services, detail how their business meets a community need that isn’t already met, and how their business concept is unique to the Waverly community. 

“We want to offer more than just a financial prize. We want to award winners knowledge and know-how, too. Everything a business needs to get up and running successfully,” Barrus’ founder and principal Matt Herman said in a statement. “The Business District doesn’t just need new businesses filling empty spaces for revitalization to work. It needs successful and sustainable new businesses.”  

Waverly Office Spaces

Contest partners include Maryland Small Business Development Center, Baltimore Community Lending, Neighborhood Design Center, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Services, and Himmelrich PR, all of whom will provide ongoing support to contest winners. The partners will also host a small business workshop series May 15 and May 18 with topics including business loans and developing marketing plans. 

The Root to Success application process will close Friday, May 12. Contact info@growinggreenmount.org for any additional information.

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Latrice Hill

Latrice Hill is a Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate who loves all the great things this city has to offer. She worked with WMAR 2-News as an Assignment Desk Editor before she joined...

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