Thursday, April 26th, dozens of North Minneapolis businesses and community members gathered at The Carpi Theater to eat, network and celebrate a year of continued accomplishments by the West Broadway Business & Area Coalition (WBC) and its 50+ membership of business and non-profit organizations.
During a brief program, Jackie Cherryhomes, Chair of the WBC Board of Directors, highlighted the Coalition’s Façade Improvement Program, West Broadway Farmers Market, Web and Social Media Promotion Project, Business Networking and Information Meetings, FLOW Arts Crawl, and Tornado Recovery work.
Al McFarlane, of Insight News and also a WBC board member, moderated a panel discussion on “Business District Revitalization Progress & Partnerships.” Panelists included: Sarah Hernandez, McKnight Foundation, Kelly Hoffman, City of Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, Joyce Wisdom, Lake Street Council, Jon Commers, Donjek Consulting & the Metropolitan Council and Dudley Voigt, Artistic Director of FLOW Arts Crawl.
Dudley Voigt described about how the arts, including the Art Façade Improvement Program and FLOW Northside Arts Crawl play a positive role in community and economic development and improving the pedestrian environment on West Broadway.
Sarah Hernandez spoke about some exciting local and national initiatives, including a wealth building worker/owner initiative out of Cleveland called Evergreen Cooperative which some Twin Cities organizations are looking to as a model for their own projects.
Jon Commers outlined the potential for a commercial land trust on commercial corridors as a good way to reduce the risks of neighborhood gentrification in neighborhoods undergoing revitalization.
Kelly Hoffman focused on all of the current projects underway on West Broadway, including the Rose Development Project, an Alliance Housing Project, the potential DEED Workforce Center, and the RFP the City of Minneapolis will be releasing for the old Broadway Rental site. “The West Broadway Coalition’s annual meeting was an occasion to celebrate not only the accomplishments of this organization but also strong partnerships and a spirit of collaboration when looking towards the future. Best of all, it was great to have some time to mingle and chat with all the amazing people in attendance,” said Kelly V. Hoffman of the City of Minneapolis.
Joyce Wisdom spoke about the WBC’s partnership with several other commercial corridors across the Twin Cities, The Great Cities Collaborative and their collective research and work on bringing the Business Improvement Districts model to the Twin Cities.
To conclude the program, those present enjoyed a rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude in G Minor" performed by Carl Griffin, WBC Board Member and Director of Communications for the Capri Theater. Food and refreshments were provided by Northside businesses Right in Thyme Catering, Merwin Liquors and Broadway Liquor Outlet.
Nat Jackson, Operations Manager for Headwinds Solutions and a WBC member, said of the meeting, “It was an excellent networking event. I met some very interesting people, I secured a new client and I was able to speak with Beth Grosen from the City of Minneapolis about a community beautification project near our building. It was a very useful event…on top of all that, I liked the piano music!”
The West Broadway Business and Area Coalition (WBC) leads initiatives to bring business, non-profits organizations and neighbors together to create an inviting and vital West Broadway corridor that will transform the Northside into a thriving economic community.