• Our 360 Staff

Birmingham mayor announces partnership with Mastercard to support small business

With spending already declining in Birmingham prior to the pandemic, the decrease in commercial activity has disproportionately affected the city’s small businesses. In particular, minority owned businesses in the region saw an outsized impact from the downturn, making them a priority focus for the city of Birmingham amidst recovery. To that end, Mastercard and the Birmingham Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity have partnered to introduce Ascend Birmingham, a program focused on helping local small businesses pivot to digital operations and thrive in an age of a more digitally engaged consumer.


From left, Tanesha Sims-Summers of Naughty But Nice; Ursula Smith, owner, Ursula Smith Company; Coreata Houser, deputy director of Birmingham's Department of Innovation and Economic Development; Mayor Randall Woodfin; and Michael Froman, Mastercard Vice Chairman/President for Strategic Growth


"The City of Birmingham is thrilled to partner with Mastercard on this key initiative, which will go a long way in reaching our goal of making Birmingham a hub for minority-owned small businesses," said Mayor Randall Woodfin. "Allowing these businesses to flourish in digital spaces not only increases their reach but their creative potential as well. It's an incredible opportunity for our business community."


With support from Square, Accion Opportunity Fund, and Sunrise by Lendio, Ascend Birmingham will provide education, tools and resources focused on building out an effective digital presence, accepting digital payments, growing and managing your business, and gaining access to capital. Participants in the program will also be provided a custom curated business kit that includes solutions such as a Square Reader along with website development software, bookkeeping software and a professional bookkeeper from Sunrise by Lendio. The program also provides advisory expertise from Accion Opportunity Fund, Mastercard cybersecurity and data insight solutions and other city-provided resources.


Mastercard and the City of Birmingham have also partnered to deliver a city focused Digital Doors platform with always-on content and resources for local owners.


“We applaud the efforts of Mayor Woodfin and the Department of Innovation & Economic Opportunity to ensure the endurance of Birmingham-based small businesses and are proud to partner with the city so that owners have access to the tools and resources necessary to thrive in today’s digital age,” said Michael Froman, vice chairman and president Strategic Growth for Mastercard.


“The resiliency and drive of small business owners is unprecedented and supporting their recovery is the single most important thing we can all do for economic and social vitality.”


Birmingham-based small businesses interested in learning more and signing up for an upcoming Ascend Birmingham cohort can visit here.


Mayor Woodfin and Mastercard will also recognize three Birmingham businesses selected to be part of the national Priceless campaign, which highlights creative businesses offering unique experiences for patrons. Ursula Smith, founder of the Ursula Smith Dance Co.; Evan and Eleny Christen, owners of Pinspiration Birmingham; and Tanesha Sims-Summers, founder and CEO of Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. are the Birmingham honorees.


“Leveraging data-driven insights, we are partnering with the City of Birmingham to assess the impact of the pandemic on the local economy and help protect local communities and businesses that are most at-risk,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, president of North America for Mastercard.


“With these insights we can engage our network of partners and prioritize investments in order to proactively build a foundation that fosters an equitable recovery.”

Courtesy of Mastercard

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