NEW YORK/NEW ORLEANS (press release) – ESSENCE, the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women with a global brand reach of over 20.2 million, announces the return of its partnership with the Urban League of Louisiana for its groundbreaking program, The Pipeline: An Economic Inclusion Initiative. The Pipeline is designed to increase the pool of Louisiana-based women and Black professionals pursuing careers and business opportunities in live events and technical production. The Pipeline was developed by Essence Communications, Inc., in collaboration with the Urban League of Louisiana as a culturally-driven procurement program for the brand’s premiere experience, the ESSENCE Festival. Additional Pipeline partners include the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network (NOMTN) and Louisiana Economic Development (LED).

The Pipeline will offer more opportunities to support the procurement of contracts for 2020 ESSENCE Festival services. The ESSENCEFestival is one of the world’s largest curated content celebrations of culture and community attracting over half a million attendees in New Orleans annually. As ESSENCE looks ahead to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ESSENCE in 2020, the brand will expand the ESSENCEFestival experience for attendees with more entertainment, empowerment and culture, in addition to deepening its community impact and legacy in the Louisiana region. The initiative’s approach will focus on the following key components for Black-owned businesses: capacity building, increasing project opportunities and training and development services.

ESSENCE and the Urban League of Louisiana have identified the delivery and execution processes required for results and program achievement for The Pipeline initiative:

  • Develop a database of small businesses interested in ESSENCE Festival opportunities
  • Engage more Black-owned businesses and strengthen the small business ecosystem in Louisiana
  • Investment in small business incubators as partners to support capacity building
  • Diversify the pipeline of contractors to increase the number of contracts that are led by black-owned businesses in Louisiana
  • Build upon the ESSENCE Festival’s economic impact
  • Investment in the long-term growth of small business ecosystem through partnerships with small business incubators on training and development

“The return of the Pipeline Initiative is so important to ESSENCE, especially as we draw closer to our brand’s our 50th anniversary,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of ESSENCE. “Our mission has always remained the same, and that is to serve Black women deeply. We understand the challenges that they face at every level—including Black professionals and entrepreneurs who need help sourcing targeted opportunities. We are thankful for the Urban League of Louisiana for their partnership and dedication to our community.”

In 2018, Essence Communications was acquired by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, technology-driven company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color. As the brand celebrates another year of becoming 100% Black-owned again, ESSENCE is furthering its commitment to enabling sustainable opportunities for economic independence, social empowerment and wealth creation for Black women and their communities.

“The Urban League of Louisiana is honored to once again partner with ESSENCE to bring the Pipeline Initiative to small businesses in Louisiana,” said Judy Reese Morse, president and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “We applaud ESSENCE for its commitment to strengthen the ecosystem that supports small business growth and development. This important work aligns beautifully with the Urban League’s mission to support economic prosperity and small business development across the state.”

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