Black Business Investment

Is this the right program for me?

Are you a Black-owned business that has been operating for at least six months and wants to do business in the city of Tacoma?

  • Are you a Black-owned business that has been operating for at least six months?
  • Business must be headquartered in the city limits of Tacoma.
  • Actively engaged in the program and follow-ups.

Apply to the Black Business Investment

As the nation responds to various major issues, there has never been a time of more promise for marginalized communities. For Black entrepreneurs and business owners there is a major shift happening towards economic empowerment. The Black Business Investment program with Spaceworks is focused on providing a more equitable Tacoma for black entrepreneurs.

Locally, community members have demanded the establishment of and increased support for Black-owned businesses. With Hilltop being a focus, we also are providing support throughout all of Tacoma. In response to community engagement and requests, Spaceworks Tacoma launched a new business development program for Black entrepreneurs that provides resources, services, as well as working to put businesses into retail spaces. The Black Business Investment aims to continue the long and rich history of Black-owned businesses on Hilltop, grow Black businesses in Tacoma, and to decrease systemic barriers in our changing city. 

Under the leadership of Herschel Wilson, our approach builds on our existing Incubator and centers Black owners and entrepreneurs to…

  • Develop and execute winning business plans for the purpose of starting, growing, and funding their enterprises
  • Learn top strategies, tools, and resources for growing a sustainable business
  • Learn about upcoming opportunities from community partners and developers
  • Engage with a broader network of invested individuals, entities, and groups
  • Prepare for, and receive advocacy on behalf of, obtaining a physical location on Hilltop

This is a multi-year effort that brings together community partners, business professionals, and developers. In 2021, we launched a 2-month pilot cohort with 12 businesses. Since then, the project grew from being neighborhood focused with respect to Hilltop, to being a city-wide program. We are gearing up for the next group of business professionals to enter into our next cohort program. To continue the commitment, we make to our cohort members, we host quarterly Happy Hours. The goal is to have Black business owners’ network together, create synergy, tell us their concerns and needs, as well as have community partners to the table. This lowers the barrier for these businesses as we match services such as lending, retail space, accounting, and much more to businesses in need.

To get involved and to support the Black Business Investment, please contact 

For Black business owners, we have additional services and programming as part of our commitment to equity in entrepreneurship. This program prepares Black businesses to access future leasing opportunities in Tacoma, with an emphasis on Hilltop. Participants can access all the above incubator benefits, as well as the following:

  • Dedicated bookkeeper (6-months)
  • Marketing and branding consultation
  • Business coaching (emphasis on raising capital)
  • Business district annual membership
  • Black Business Directory membership, in partnership with the Tacoma Urban League
  • Annual Black business demonstration day

To apply for the Black Business Investment program, please submit an application through the Spaceworks Incubator:

Applications are due December 1, 2022

Acceptance into the BBI also includes the 12-week Business Plan Cohort, where you will develop a formal business plan. If you already have a detailed business plan, you may be eligible to skip the cohort. Please contact the program lead, Herschel Wilson, for more details:

The Black Business Investment receives funding from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, with additional support from the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation, Tacoma Housing Authority, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. To sponsor this program and our events, please contact Michael Liang, Spaceworks Director:

Program Lead

Herschel Wilson is a graduate of Western Kentucky University, and Indiana University – Purdue University of Indianapolis. After graduating he worked for Lockheed Martin, as well as Lowes Corporate before moving to Washington. In 2019, he opened a pottery studio with his wife called The Painting Panda Pottery Studio. In early 2022 he took on another endeavor to create more activity in downtown Tacoma and launched Energize Tacoma.
Herschel Wilson, Property and Business Coordinator, Spaceworks Tacoma

Program Support

“I have worked in accounting for more than eight years. When I heard about the Black Business Accelerator Program I was excited to get involved. I know many business owners in our community do not have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of operating finances in business. As a Tacoma native, I am eager to be a part of something that will help business owners fully realize their growth potential. I am especially thrilled to support a program that will make a difference in my own community. I feel honored for the opportunity to give back to such a proud and resilient group.”
Asia Dillingham, A+ Bookkeeping & Payroll Services CEO, Dedicated Resource Provider and Small Business Owner
“I’ve been working with Black businesses for 11 years, so I’ve been able to see, hear and feel the challenges as well as the victories. This is a chance to leverage a sweet spot in our history—a time when private industry and government are finally coming into alignment on behalf of the Black economic equity cause. I’m honored to work with such dynamic, resilient people on a daily basis and look forward to what we can accomplish through this innovative new program.”
Drea Baines, Program Facilitator; CEO, I’MPossible Consulting