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New Orleans session set for Feb. 5. To register or for more information, visit

Essence, the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women with a global brand reach of over 17 million, will partner with the City of New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana to launch 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. This initiative will also create opportunities to connect existing production entrepreneurs to service contracts in the industry at both the corporate and governmental levels and give them access to networking, capital raising and opportunities for training and skills development. It will also include an internship program for youth who aspire for careers in media and live production and more.

In 2018, Essence Communications was acquired by Essence Ventures, an independent African-American owned company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color. As the brand celebrates its one-year anniversary of becoming 100 percent 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.

“Our Pipeline Initiative is so meaningful because we are establishing it in direct response to a critical void that we have identified while successfully building the ESSENCE Festival and other live experiential and content platforms for 25 years – the need for more Black professionals prepared to bid on large-scale live events and technical production,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence. “This effort speaks directly to ESSENCE’s mission of serving our audience in every way-especially by empowering them to own their economic security. It will allow us to become a conduit for Black businesses and entrepreneurs to help them source targeted opportunities in a space where we are underrepresented. We thank the City of New Orleans, the Urban League of Louisiana and each of our partners for their vision and support in this important endeavor.”

As part of ESSENCE’s partnership with the Urban League of Louisiana, the PipelineInitiative will launch with information briefings that will target potential bidders in key Louisiana cities featuring RFP training and more. The sessions will be held in: New Orleans (Feb. 5), Baton Rouge (Feb. 6), Shreveport (Feb. 7) and Monroe (Feb. 8). To register or for more information, visit

In addition to the City of New Orleans and the Urban League of Louisiana, the Pipeline Initiative will partner with several other key community and business organizations, including New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC), Louisiana Economic Development (LED) and the New Voices Fund. In 2020 and beyond, the Pipeline initiative will also partner with Louisiana academic institutions to launch the Essence Live Production Academy. The Academy will feature a collection of e-training and live training modules for small businesses and will be instructed by leading industry professionals with a focus on key areas of technical production – audio, lighting, staging and live event management.

“I am very excited about the collaboration between ESSENCE, The Louisiana Urban League, and the City of New Orleans for The Pipeline economic initiative,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “It’s a great way to create opportunities for talented women and Black professionals in the live events and production fields. With New Orleans being a hub for live events, we are being intentional about bridging the gap between opportunity and those who may have not had previous access to those opportunities.”

“We are grateful to partner with ESSENCE and the City of New Orleans to support The Pipeline,” said Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “Our mission speaks directly to the power and importance of economic self-reliance for those we serve. This innovative collaboration brings the business, non-profit and government sectors together to deliver access and capacity building for small business entrepreneurs to grow and compete. The Pipeline is adding seats to the table, and our small business owners will be ready to join in and participate.”

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