Pilot program will provide resources and mentoring to businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans and those who identify as LGBTQ+
December 7, 2021
Today the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) announced the first participants selected for its Tourism Accelerator pilot program. The initiative, one of the first of its kind in the country, is designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the local tourism industry by providing free membership, mentoring, education and networking opportunities to businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans and those who identify as LGBTQ+.
The first cohort, which was selected from nearly 50 applicants, reflects the diversity of the region and the industry, embracing a wide range of business types with owners from a variety of backgrounds. They include:
Access Trax LLC: Provider of portable access mats that ensure stable surfaces for mobility device users to easily access outdoor recreation over sand, grass, gravel and snow.
Owner - Kelly Twichel
Alternative Strategies: A full-service marketing and PR agency focused exclusively on the hospitality industry.
Owner – William Lopez
Hispanic/Latinx, LGBTQ+-owned business
Common Theory Public House: Bar and restaurant.
Owner – Cristian Liang
Fargo's BBQ/Jamaican Cuisine: Jamaican cuisine caterer and food truck.
Owner - Jacinth (Elaine) Williams
Black, Jamaican, female-owned business
Finest City Improv: Improvisational comedy shows and classes.
Owner - Amy Lisewski
LGBTQ+, female-owned business
Game Face Video SD: Creative-youth developer and technical training company in the field of video and photography.
Owner – Regina V. Greenlee
Black, veteran-owned business
Gossip Grill: Lesbian/LGBTQ+bar.
Owner – Moe Girton
LGBTQ+, woman-owned business
It's In the Details: A boutique travel and event company with concierge-style services.
Owner – Nita Cintron
Black, woman-owned business
Pop Up Picnic Co.: Luxury picnic event company.
Owner – Lauren Kimmons
Social Artistry LLC: Event company with a focus on empowering diverse communities.
Owner – Lauren Garces
Asian, African-American, woman-owned business
Bank of America and SDG&E are the financial sponsors of the pilot program, which will begin in January 2022 and offer participants a suite of services valued at over $10,000, including:
Julie Coker, SDTA’s president and CEO, said the goal is to grow the Tourism Accelerator into an annual program with more participants, because creating an inclusive tourism industry is critical to its ongoing health and sustainability.
“When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, they must be intentional and have a business case,” Coker said. “The goal of this Tourism Accelerator is to increase the number of diverse businesses in our membership base, because that will give our visitors more diverse products from which to choose. When we grow the number of diverse businesses, we are helping to ensure the local tourism recovery is equitable for everyone, and that is a win-win for our residents and our visitors.”
A look at the selection criteria:
A diverse panel reviewed the applications while also considering the viability of the business model, business needs and commitment to community service as part of the selection process.
For more information, visit: https://www.sandiego.org/accelerator. Details on applying for the next round will be available early next year.
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