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Topics: Business Innovation, Imagination, Community

Development, Brain-storming, Research, Tool-kit


Growing Equity In Place-

making Initiatives One
Coffeeshop At a Time
Historically underinvested communities increasingly look toward place-making initiatives as a means of
sparking their local economy. What can result are entrepreneurial ecosystems that attract dollars to a
community. Ostensibly, this helps with wages, employment, and infrastructural investment. However,
what we often find is that most of the establishments important to existing place-making playbooks (i.e.
galleries, coffee shops, cafes, restaurants) are not ultimately owned by someone from the community in
which the place-making initiative takes place.

What results are a majority of coffee shops and galleries run by owners who are not of the community
and, more importantly, not people of color.

In other words, existing place-making initiatives empower communities to consume, but do not
empower them to produce. This means as much as seventy cents of a dollar will leave the community.

Initiatives generate tourists, services, and revenue, but do so by importing in entrepreneurship.
I am exploring how place-making initiatives can build into the planning process the creation of
ecosystems that educate, equip, incubate, and grow businesses straight from the community. To start, I
want to understand how we equip people of color to start and grow more coffee shops. Not only are
these businesses community catalysts, but they hold possibility for a small start with significant growth.

I recently completed a cultural arts district planning process funded by National Endowment of the Arts
and saw this need first hand while visiting and studying dozens of Cultural Arts Districts and place-
making initiatives.

“In other words, existing place-making initiatives

empower communities to consume, but do not
empower them to produce.”

From this work I will develop a tool-kit to assist communities with identifying, incubating, and growing
local entrepreneurs through community coffeeshops. I believe once developed, this could be expanded
to a larger entrepreneurial ecosystem. And finally establish true equity in place-making initiatives by
ensuring dollars are made by, and kept within, the respective communities.

Where I am
Currently, I’ve in the research phase and have started to compile interviews, case-studies, statistics, and
business models. Right now, the focus is better understanding the needs of the communities I want to
help as well as the existing barriers.

The next phase will be putting together the statistics for the economic case. However, I do have a one-
pager and abstract available for more information.

How You Can Help

This is centered around the community and should be done in community. To that end, I’m always
looking for:

- Parties interested in learning more, and wanting to contribute.

- Existing coffeeshop owners, especially those of color
- Funders with an interest in place-making, economic development, economic rehabilitation,
entrepreneurship or community development.
- Introductions to individuals and institutions you believe can contribute in a meaningful way.

You can email me for more information here