Urban Strategies Near North Side 0

Critical Community Improvement Plan Project Support Acknowledgment

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Near North Side Critical Communities Improvement Plan

Near North Side Critical Communities Improvement Plan at a Glance:

The CCI Plan proposal will provide the infrastructure to create a more equitable Near North Side by offering space for neighbors to gather, work and learn together, creating a catalyst for economic mobility for the neighborhood. Intentionally employing residents to usher the transformation while establishing resident-led businesses in the neighborhood that address critical community challenges will provide the seed for a thriving Near North Side.

Proposed Improvement 1: Economic Empowerment Center:

The EEC will help establish ways to increase minority entrepreneurs obtaining the necessary educational and managerial skills that will enable them to take advantage of new business opportunities and qualify for financing that will lead to higher levels of business growth.

The strategies of the EEC are to:

  • Improve educational attainment, including certifications to qualify for jobs at the nearby National Geospatial-intelligence Agency (NGA) and to advance skills in existing NGA and healthcare job
  • Create credentialing and certification opportunities that are linked to living wage career pathways.
  • Develop plans and strategies for leveraging minority- woman- and disadvantaged-owner business enterprise (MBE, WBE or DBE) certifications.
  • Gain a broader perspective of business issues and the economic impact.
  • Participate in interactive problem-solving sessions designed to strengthen business strategies.
  • Expand professional networks and enhance personal relationships. Link residents with workforce development credentialing and certifications.
  • Link residents with job opportunities at NGA and other nearby businesses.
  • Provide space and community relationships to existing and new workforce development programs
  • Receive recognition and graduate with knowledge necessary to make substantial contributions to the quality of life across our region.
  • Focus on poverty reduction strategies.
  • Develop health and wealth creation strategies with a focus on people of color.

Proposed Improvement 2: Social Entrepreneurship Micro Loan Program

An existing revolving loan program will be expanded using Choice funds to support small and emerging businesses led by residents of the Near North Side. Lower cost small-to-medium startup and expansion loans of up to $50,000 for 72 months will go to individuals/entities whose products or business models seek to address critical community challenges identified in the Near North Side and that align with the Health + Wealth theme. Business solutions could address challenges such as food access and production, healthy living and health care or community safety, among other challenges.

To further support borrowers, the following services will also be provided:

  • One-on-one counseling and technical assistance
  • Credit building strategies and assistance
  • Strategic connections to bookkeeping, legal, marketing and other professional resources and provides
  • Grant funding to get healthy business practices started
  • Lunch ‘n Learn workshops on topics such as banking, marketing, insurance and quality jobs
  • Formal business plan development guidance
  • Post-loan technical assistance for those who struggle to meet business plan benchmark
  • Post loan technical assistance for those who are expanding businesses

Proposed Improvement 3: Loretta Hall Park Renewal

Loretta Hall Park sits at the gateway to the Near North Side and is the most immediately accessible park for residents of Downtown West, Carr Square, Loretta Hall Townhomes and Preservation Square. The park’s ancillary structures, playsets, field, trails and lighting are out of date and inadequate for today’s families. To promote healthy, safe, intergenerational recreation in the neighborhood.

Loretta Hall Park will be upgraded with:

  • New lighting
  • Improved trails
  • Updated play assemblies and sports facilities
  • Picnic shelter and tables for gatherings
  • Multipurpose activity field
  • Event electric connections
  • Adult exercise equipment
  • Bleachers for sports spectators

Proposed Improvement 4: 14th Street Corridor Place-Making

To send a clear signal that long-awaited transformation of the Near North Side has arrived and to firmly distinguish and honor the community’s past and progress, creative improvements along the 14th and Cass corridors will be implemented. Community storytelling and branding exercises developed by MiG through technical assistance continue to be replicated to gather wide perspectives and input from residents. Once synthesized, this input will serve as the foundation for theming visual elements of the corridors. Also building off MiG’s recommendations and those of the 14th Street Great Streets Plan, creative markers will be placed in key areas of the corridors that announce and amplify the inherent spirit of the community.

Examples of potential improvements include:

  • Fixed public art installations as standalones or on corridor surfaces
  • Substantial gateway features marking the entrances to the community
  • Tree-scaping and sidewalk rain gardens
  • Light pole banners that carry the community’s stories and collective message
  • Pedestrian infrastructure (benches, tables, etc.) to encourage rest and fellowship along the corridor

For more information visit: http://www.nearnorthsidestl.com

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