3 Birmingham businesses partner up with MasterCard—learn more

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Ursula Smith Dance Co. and Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. will both be featured in Mastercard's national Pricelesscampaign. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now
Ursula Smith Dance Co. and Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. will both be featured in Mastercard’s national Pricelesscampaign. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now

MasterCard is working to make small black-owned businesses thrive in Birmingham. They’re helping “cash-only” businesses create digital formats while featuring three local creative businesses in their national Priceless campaign. We attended a press conference for the campaign and were inspired by what we learned.

Revitalizing Birmingham

Mastercard North America CEO Linda Kirkpatrick supports black-owned businesses like Ursula Smith Dance Co. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now
MasterCard North America CEO Linda Kirkpatrick supports black-owned businesses like Ursula Smith Dance Co. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now

More than anything, MasterCard’s partnership with Birmingham aims to support black-owned and creative small businesses. Throughout the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, black-owned businesses faced countless challenges. Even so, they persevered and got creative.

“On February first of 2020, I opened my doors in the historic A.G. Gaston Building with high hopes of impacting my community and stretching my capacity to reach children, youth and adults. Literally on March 13 of 2020 I had to shut my doors. You literally saw the world close down. Now, did I cry? Yes. But I quickly said we’re going digital, even though I didn’t know anything about it. I got creative.”

Ursula Smith, Founder, Ursula Smith Dance Co.
Ursula Smith is a powerful speaker and business owner. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now
Ursula Smith is a powerful speaker and business owner. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now

Despite these obstacles, Ursula was able to teach 127 dance classes virtually throughout the pandemic. MasterCard wants to support businesses like Ursula’s as they work toward sustained growth.

Mastercard brings “cash-only” into the digital age

Mayor Woodfin fist bumps Ursula Smith, who will be featured in the Pricelesscampaign. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now
Mayor Woodfin fist bumps Ursula Smith, who will be featured in the Priceless campaign. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now

To achieve this, MasterCard is supporting Birmingham businesses in two ways:

  1. Ascend Birmingham: A new MasterCard initiative that’s designed to help “cash-only” businesses establish formats to accept credit, debit and digital payment. The initiative will give “cash-only” businesses free website software, access to digital payments and consultations with advisors. Ascend Birmingham can be accessed here.
  2. Priceless Campaign: Three Birmingham businesses will be featured in MasterCard’s long-running “Priceless” campaign. Profiles on the Priceless campaign website highlight how companies are providing unique experiences and connecting with others in their community.

Here are the three Birmingham businesses that will be in the upcoming Priceless campaign:

Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. will be featured in Mastercard's national Pricelesscampaign. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now
Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. will be featured in MasterCard’s national Priceless campaign. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now

Three unique businesses impacting Birmingham

The Ursula Smith Dance Co. is located in the historic A.G. Gaston Building. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now
The Ursula Smith Dance Co. is located in the historic A.G. Gaston Building. Photo via Libby Foster for Bham Now

All three of these businesses are a part of Birmingham’s creative community. Here’s a peek at each:

Ursula Smith Dance Co. cultivates creativity through dance and serves people of all ages in Birmingham. Located in the Civil Rights district, the black-owned business empowers people through creativity.

Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. makes small-batch kettle corn in downtown Birmingham and even creates custom spices for local businesses. They’re also poppin’ with a purpose. Naughty But Nice partners with charities like Ronald McDonald House and Jessie’s Place to put on popcorn fundraisers.

Mayor Woodfin is excited about Mastercard's efforts to revitalize Birmingham. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now
Mayor Woodfin is excited about Mastercard’s efforts to revitalize Birmingham. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now

Pinspiration removes barriers to creativity and helps people bring their crafty ideas to life. At their Cahaba Park location, Pinspiration provides all the art supplies and an inviting space for people across the city. Clients only need to bring their energy and enthusiasm.

Creative and black-owned small businesses are critical to Birmingham’s growth. I’m excited to see how this campaign impacts The Magic City.

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Libby Foster
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