By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A program is giving small, local companies a chance at something big.

Mall of America is offering BIPOC store owners a rent-free space for three months.

READ MORE: 5 People Injured In House Explosion In Cambridge

Up on the south side of the second floor at the mall, you’ll find Community Commons, with more than a dozen minority-owned small businesses that are taking their craft to the next level.

From fashion, to beauty, to delectable delights, it’s tough to choose where to begin — but we landed at Bernadette Hunter’s Highly Favored Delicacies.

“This my brand, the pudding with a twist,” Hunter said.

What started as a Church potluck item is now a blossoming business.

“No one makes strawberry pudding, so I had to create strawberry pudding,” Hunter said. “And it went from there to making strawberry-kiwi, to strawberry-banana, to blueberry.”

She’s done farmers markets and set up outside the Minnesota State Fair, but this will be her home for the next six months.

(credit: CBS)

“Our motto is, ‘Once you try it, you will constantly buy it,’” she said.

READ MORE: Pedestrian Injured After Being Struck In Uptown Minneapolis

Community Commons is the first stop on her dream to have her own storefront one day.

“And I want it to be in every city, you know, go nationwide,” Hunter said.

Just down the hall, a former Community Commons business has done just that. Urban 29, a luxury streetwear spot owned by Joyce Sanders, is now a permanent fixture at Mall of America.

“I didn’t have any clue what would happen within the six months, I just really was taking advantage of the opportunity,” Sanders said.

When she got the call to join the commons last fall, it helped her reboot her business after her old storefront on Lake Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis was badly damaged during the unrest following the death of George Floyd.

“The Community Commons has been a great help,” Sanders said. “It helped me to build my business back. To focus, and just to rebuild.”

At the Community Commons, business owners get to feed off of each other to help make their business dreams a reality.

“Seeing the young entrepreneurs come up, that excites me,” Sanders said.

So far, eight businesses from Community Commons have gone on to lease their own space in the mall.

MORE NEWS: 12-Year-Old Hurt In St. Paul Shooting; Investigation Underway

Click here for more information on how to be considered for the next round in the spring.

Erin Hassanzadeh