Audible Pledges Over $1 Million To Attract Black Businesses To Newark, NJ
Hoping to attract more diverse firms, including Black businesses, Audible is pledging over $1 million to invest in firms that want to expand or relocate to Newark, New Jersey. Owned by Amazon, Audible is an audiobook and podcast platform that calls itself the fastest-growing employer in Newark.
Audible is offering new incentives and is encouraging founders of color or female founders to apply. Applicants can access relocation assistance, capital for new leases, and stipends for employees to live and shop locally as part of Audible’s Live Local program. Its efforts include a $500 monthly after-tax rent subsidy for employees who choose to live in the city.
The program‘s efforts include targeting startups with at least 10 employees. The aims are to boost local spending to preserve and create jobs, address high retail and commercial vacancy rates, and help grow the city’s innovation ecosystem. Six firms in the tech innovation, hospitality, and entertainment sectors have already joined the program and will be expanding or arriving in Newark.
In addition, Harlem’s BLVD Bistro plans to open a second location in a mixed-use space at 33 Washington. It will be run by husband-and-wife team Chef Carlos Swepson and co-owner Markisha Swepson. BLVD was named among the best soul food spots in the country by Food Network. 550 Broad Street will become home to Melba’s 550, a second location of the comfort food destination Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem.
Audible is backing other developments in the city, including Newark Culture Club, a 2,500 square feet cocktail bar and live entertainment venue expected to open in 2025. Audible says it will be owned by an investment group of mostly Newark residents and minorities, led by comedian Justin Williams, host of the Fraudsters podcast.
Businesses interested in seeking help for locating in Newark “can plug into” the city’s entrepreneurial community catalyzed by Newark Venture Partners (NVP), an early-stage venture capital fund and accelerator founded by Audible founder Don Katz. Created in 2015, NVP is the most active investor in New Jersey, having invested over $55 million into more than 100 companies, nearly 60% of which are founded by women or founders of color, Audible says. Go here to get more details.
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