LinkNYC launches new initiative: Free kiosk ads for Black-owned businesses in honor of National Black Business Month

Black-owned business owners can apply to advertise their businesses on LinkNYC kiosks through the month of August in honor of National Black Business Month.
Photos courtesy of LinkNYC

Small black-owned businesses now have the opportunity to advertise on four LinkNYC kiosks for free.

The opportunity arises from a new, first-ever initiative in honor of National Black Business Month in August meant to help boost small Black-owned businesses — underrepresented across the small business landscape — across the five boroughs. 

Some of the featured businesses include The Nourish Spot, Beauty Therapy Session, Yummy Tummy’s Kitchen, Tastee Pattee, Bake & Things, Conrad’s Famous Bakery, and Bayaal, according to LinkNYC. 

The initiative is still accepting applications on a rolling basis throughout the month. The advertisements can be programmed on four kiosks, which is double the number of kiosks usually available for small businesses.

Nicole Robinson-Etienne, director of external affairs of LinkNYC, told amNewYork Metro that this is the inaugural year of the Black Business Month promotion at LinkNYC. 

“This is something that I feel personally passionate about,” Robinson-Etienne said. “I believe in being able to empower communities through this resource.”

The Link Local program, started in 2017, works with New York City’s small businesses and nonprofits to provide free and low-cost advertising for them. The program aims to draw attention to the LinkNYC kiosks, which were set up to offer New Yorkers phone call services, free Wi-fi, and connect them to a variety of social services, public amenities, and resources.  The kiosks replaced the network of public pay phones when they were deemed obsolete. 

Robinson-Etienne added that the real focus of the Link Local program and LinkNYC overall is to offer digital advertising, which has traditionally been out of reach for local mom-and-pop businesses more accessible. 

The initiative allows for an unlimited number of online or brick-and-mortar Black-owned businesses across New York City to apply, according to Robinson-Etienne. The only restriction is that the applicant is a traditional small business, meaning that they cannot be a large franchise with several locations. 

There are currently 1,800 kiosks across the five boroughs, though the original goal was to have 10,000 installed in all neighborhoods in New York City. 

Dawn Kelly, founder and CEO of The Nourish Spot, told amNewYork Metro that LinkNYC provided her business with four kiosks to display advertisements for the entire month. She was overjoyed to hear from customers that they saw the advertisements on a kiosk under the 7 train tracks on Roosevelt Avenue. 

“I’m really happy; it’s working,” Kelly said. “People are seeing it and telling me they’re seeing it.”

The Nourish Spot’s advertisements center around its concession stands at Citi Field.

“Now about to enter back to the US Open,” Kelly said. “I’m glad to be a Black female entrepreneur, working with my children to build generational wealth.”

Currently, just 3.5% of New York City businesses are Black-owned, despite Black residents making up 22% of New York City’s population, according to the city’s Small Business Services. In a 2020 survey that focused on Black entrepreneurship in New York City, more than 70% of Black business owners in New York City said they want help reaching more customers and growing their sales. 

After leaving the corporate finance world, Kelly, along with two of her children, opened her business in September 2017 offering fresh fruits, vegetables, juices, and waffles. Kelly’s salad shop and smoothie bar is located in a “food desert” in the Queens neighborhood of South Jamaica, where healthy and nutritious food options are few and far between. 

“I’m very familiar with the links. I remember the first time I saw one,” Kelly said. “I’m like, “Well, what happened to the phone booth?” Then I’m like, “Oh, nobody uses phone booths anymore. Nobody but Superman.”

Kelly said that LinkNYC provides her with a modern way to engage more people across the city.

“Technology offers us newfangled ways of getting your message across to people,” Kelly said. “I’m grateful that Link Local cares about small business, and during this month, they care for Black-owned businesses across New York City.”