Mayor Adams launches $25 million facility for minority-women-owned businesses

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic, and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer, and Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation President and CEO Lindsay Greene announced on March 7, 2024, a new, total cost $25 million state-of-the-art manufacturing, incubator, and accelerator facility — AYO Labs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard — focused on helping businesses, especially Black-, indigenous-, and other people of color-owned (BIPOC) and woman-owned health and beauty businesses, launch and grow in New York City. R.F. Wilkins Consultants has been selected to develop and operate the project, which is expected to create over 900 direct and indirect jobs in the first five years, as well as strengthen New York City’s position as a leader in the $450 billion health and beauty industry. Once complete, AYO Labs will be one of the country’s largest Black woman-owned contract manufacturing facilities anchored in a business incubator and accelerator. 

Phase one of the $25 million project is expected to be completed by 2025 and will deliver a 26,000-square-foot, $12 million manufacturing ecosystem to support over 100 entrepreneurs annually as they develop and scale their companies. Phase two is expected to be completed by 2026 and will expand the facility to bring an additional 14,000 square-feet of manufacturing space online.  

To close the equity gap in the beauty and wellness industry, AYO Labs will help reduce long-standing barriers and support BIPOC and women entrepreneurs in entering and scaling their health and beauty businesses. The space will also serve as a manufacturing hub to some of the nation’s largest wellness brands. The facility will support product formulation, small and large batch manufacturing, and packaging services. It will also provide the tools, resources, and support needed to turn innovative ideas into thriving businesses with programming for early-stage entrepreneurs. Small businesses participating in the incubator and accelerator cohorts will have access to tech-driven back-office support, world-class instructors, hands-on training, technical assistance, mentorship, and networking opportunities, as well as access to capital.  

According to a 2022 McKinsey report, addressing racial inequity in the beauty industry presents enormous economic opportunity. Despite the wellness and beauty industry accounting for a nearly $450 billion market share that is expected to grow to $600 billion by 2030, only 2.5 percent of the revenue can be linked to Black-founded or -owned beauty companies despite Black consumers making up 11 percent of spending. Moreover, on average, Black brands raise just $13 million of venture capital start-up funding — approximately two-thirds of the median $20 million that non-Black brands raise.  

R.F. Wilkins Consultants will partner with McKissack & McKissack and Studio 397 Architecture, two additional Black woman-owned businesses, to design and build out AYO Labs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Jacklitch Gardner serves as the architect of record on the project, a New York-based Minority- and Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) firm. Building on R.F Wilkins Consultant’s $1.5 million investment, Phase 1 of the project will also be funded by the New York City Council, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, and Lendistry, a community development financial institution.  



Related Images: