Where It Starts: Breaking Barriers to Business

Partnering with The Truist Foundation’s Signature Small Business Initiative

Living Cities, in partnership with Main Street America, and supported by Truist Foundation, have launched an initiative to accelerate wealth-building pathways for business owners of color in Southeast U.S. cities and corridors.


Where It Starts: Breaking Barriers to Business (B3) is a 36-month initiative seeking to strengthen the systemic relationship between local government business-serving agencies (BSAs) and community-based business serving organizations (BSOs) to better serve business owners in commercial corridors of color with the access to expertise and capital they need to start, preserve, and grow in place.

In collaboration with leaders from our existing network of business serving agencies and organizations, this initiative seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • Bridge the gap in access to capital
  • Influence private and public policies and practices
  • Offer essential technical assistance to business owners from diverse communities.

To achieve this goal, we will identify and map out significant entrepreneurial ecosystem domains, pinpoint areas of weakness, provide monetary support and professional business expertise, and facilitate peer learning opportunities for the cities involved.

As we learn what it takes to drive changes in participating pilot cities, we will uplift lessons, data, and stories. We’ll post these stories on the program webpage, our blog, and through social media.

The Cities

Atlanta, Ga.entrepreneurship discussionNashville, Tenn.entrepreneurship discussionCharlotte, N.C.entrepreneurship discussion
Miami, Fla.entrepreneurship discussion
Memphis, Tenn. entrepreneurship discussion

The Cities

Atlanta, Ga.Nashville, Tenn.Charlotte, N.C.
b3 - atlantaNashvilleCharlotte NC
Miami, Fla.Memphis, Tenn.
b3 - miamiMemphis

The Cities

Atlanta, Ga.Nashville, Tenn.Charlotte, N.C.
Miami, Fla.Memphis, Tenn.

The Partners

For more than a decade, Living Cities has been a dependable collaborator for local government leaders, offering technical assistance to groups of cities and cultivating relationships with community organizations, entrepreneurs and fund managers from diverse communities, philanthropic institutions, and research organizations. As a collective, Living Cities is in a unique position to leverage these partnerships and years of experience working with cross-sector leaders, to co-create and amplify solutions, both within and beyond government, to address the systemic barriers that hinder business owners of color.

Living Cities has a proven track record of designing and executing initiatives that focus on understanding the factors that contribute to better outcomes for entrepreneurs of color in American cities. 

  • We possess expertise in implementing racial equity competencies and co-creating strategies with diverse cross-sector partners, including public servants, community organizations, philanthropic leaders, and capital decision-makers. 
  • We have extensive experience managing dynamic cohorts across multiple cities and coordinating multi-day learning communities with the aim of capturing knowledge and accelerating the adoption of effective solutions.
  • We have the capacity to consolidate and curate the resulting learnings and collaborate with Truist to inform future interventions in local entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The Truist Foundation was established in 2020 with a mission to strategically invest in nonprofit organizations, ensuring that the communities it serves have increased opportunities for a better quality of life. The foundation’s grants and activities are centered around creating career pathways to economic mobility and bolstering small businesses. As an integral part of Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) mission to inspire and develop better lives and communities, the Truist Foundation is deeply committed to its purpose. Visit Truist.com/Purpose/Truist-Foundation to learn more.

At the core of the Truist Foundation’s philosophy is the belief that everyone and every community should have equal opportunities to thrive. By partnering with Living Cities and focusing on the following critical areas, the Truist Foundation is confident that the communities it serves will have access to a better quality of life.

Main Street America envisions an inclusive and resilient Main Street accessible to all, a place that boasts a thriving local economy, is unique and full of character, and provides welcoming spaces and diverse businesses for both residents and visitors. To accomplish this objective, Main Street America employs the time-tested Main Street Approach framework, which enhances the capacity of local, place-based management organizations that assist new and established businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them. Recognizing a location’s physical environment as a key factor in small business success, particularly for entrepreneurs of color, a robust local entrepreneurial ecosystem is essential.

Main Street America has a specialized focus on supporting small businesses located in Main Streets across the country. 

  • They possess extensive expertise in entrepreneurship and are well-versed in the needs and strategies for small businesses in both urban and rural areas. 
  • Has a wealth of experience providing high-touch coaching to place-based organizations and is firmly committed to working within communities over 2-5 years.
  • Their track record includes conducting research on entrepreneurial ecosystems and collaborating with institutions like the Brookings Institute to produce knowledge products such as the 2020 report on downtown commercial corridor revitalization.

Read More About Breaking Barriers To Business:

Read More About Breaking Barriers To Business:

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