Montgomery, Alabama, is a city known for its tradition, food, music, and art—all fueled by the Black community. It’s the cultural cornerstone of the civil rights movement in the United States. And home to the largest Hyundai manufacturing plant in North America.
Because the vibrant community of Montgomery—rich with its history of promoting inclusion and equality—has always welcomed Hyundai with open arms, we wanted to give back to the city that has given so much.
In honor of Black History, we launched The Progress Project by Hyundai, an initiative to celebrate Black History year-round and extend Hyundai’s resources to the community to ensure the Black-owned businesses that helped build Montgomery can continue to flourish.
We started by inviting Team Members at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama to nominate local Black-owned businesses in their neighborhoods who they felt could use some support. The finalists were selected to receive a grant of $15,000 each to go towards renovations needed:
• JoZettie’s Cupcakes
• The King’s Canvas
• Plant Bae vegan restaurant
Over the course of several months, we followed the renovations closely, documenting the process from start to finish. Starting in February, we posted the before-and-after reveals of each business across Hyundai-owned social channels, highlighting the progress each business had achieved, and sharing the incredible stories of each local business owner.
The campaign helped facilitate the following improvements to the three businesses:
With the funds, this local favorite baked goods store was able to purchase new kitchen equipment and install new floors, giving them room to expand, helping increase the quantity of baked goods they can produce at their second location, and diversifying the variety of menu offerings they can provide. Since the renovations have been completed, the business has seen a steady increase in their sales, hitting their highest sales month in 10 years.
The King’s Canvas:
The King’s Canvas is a non-profit art studio. With the funds from The Progress Project by Hyundai, they were able to do landscaping and build an outdoor performance stage in the space outside their location, in turn, beautifying the area along the historic Selma to Montgomery March Trail. Since making the updates, they’ve hosted a number of musical performances, arts events, and movie nights–some with as many as 300 people attending. The renovations increased tourism in the area, provided additional revenue for the business, and according to the business owner, united an otherwise divided community. “Now that the stage is here, it’s just brought people over. This community had no pulse, but now it does. It’s allowed the community to come alive and it’s happened without gentrifying the neighborhood,” he said.
As the sole vegan restaurant in Montgomery, Plant Bae provides healthy food options to the community and its surrounding areas. With the funds, the restaurant installed new floors, renovated the bathroom, increased the safety of the restaurant, and updated the counter—achieving the owner’s vision of elevating the space to match the quality of the recipes she serves there. She attributes the uptick in foot traffic and increased time diners spend enjoying the dine-in experience to the restaurant’s new, clean, modern aesthetic.
The social posts served as a window into the incredible journeys and stories of the Black-owned businesses—facilitating conversation, support, increasing interest, and driving foot traffic to the locations.
The results of the campaign weren’t just seen, they were felt. By investing in thriving Black-owned businesses at the heart of the city, the ripple effect was felt across the greater community, helping to humanize the brand by proving that Hyundai is committed to investing in communities it calls home. And above all, strengthening our mission to celebrate and honor Black History year-round.
As the ultimate testament to our initiative, we’re proud to announce that we’ll be continuing this initiative for its second consecutive year, by launching The Progress Project by Hyundai in the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia–the future home of Hyundai’s first dedicated EV and battery manufacturing facilities in the U.S.