The combined vision of Saint Louis University's Center for Entrepreneurship, Habitat for Neighborhood Business and 4th Ward Alderman Sam Moore for a vibrant retail center in the historic Ville neighborhood began with a groundbreaking in March 2008 and a ribbon-cutting in May 2010 to celebrate the center's opening.
|Members of the SLU community,Habit for Neighborhood Business founder Doug Brown (with scissors) and 4th Ward Alderman Sam Moore at the May 2010 ribbon cutting for the new retail center in the historic Ville neighborhood. Today the center is at full occupancy. File photo|
Now the center, located at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Whittier Street, will mark the achievement of reaching full occupancy with a special grand opening for Chizom Food Mart and Heels N' Deals at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8.
The new stores join tenants RuAl Barber Shop, Alpha One Greek & Promotional Items, New Beauty Lace Wigs, Greater Ville Restoration and the office of 4th Ward Alderman Sam Moore.
The 7,200 square foot building with eight storefronts is part of an effort to develop urban retail and service business centers that are designed to spark economic development and job growth in urban neighborhoods, increase the number of business role models within the community, stabilize neighborhood economies and bring business ownership back to the local community.
For SLU alumnus Doug Brown, a retired executive who founded Habitat for Neighborhood Business, seeing the center reach full capacity - in spite of a troubled economy - is the fulfillment of a dream.
"When Habitat for Neighborhood Business cut the ribbon in May 2010, in the midst of the worst recession of our lifetime, no doubt the majority who attended wondered if this program could survive," Brown said.
"Today we have all eight units occupied - proof that there is a need for what we are offering and remarkably dedicated and skilled people, politicians and a fine university willing to join together to help people realize their ‘impossible' dreams."
Leadership of the Habitat for Neighborhood Business includes a board of directors and three advisors to the board, who bring years of corporate experience and innovation to the project.
About Habitat for Business: Organized in 2006, Habitat is a volunteer 501(c)3 organization that develops retail and service business centers in economically distressed neighborhoods. Through a unique incubation program, Habitat strives to revitalize neighborhoods with new economic activity, job growth and business role models for youth as well as other citizens. The initial focus is the African-American communities of North St. Louis City, where residents must leave their neighborhoods to shop for basic needs and services as well as spend discretionary dollars. Habitat extends opportunities to residents of targeted neighborhoods to be trained and mentored for their own businesses and provide economic incentives to start a business in their own community with the belief that residents will support their neighbor's business and begin to create wealth within the community.
About the SLU Center for Entrepreneurship: Inspired by Saint Louis University's Jesuit ideals, the center is a two-way bridge between academia and the business community delivering and developing resources that enable entrepreneurs to be more successful. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the goal of the Center for Entrepreneurship at SLU's John Cook School of Business is to assist in building a region of entrepreneurs. To do this, the center provides and supports a variety of programs for current and prospective entrepreneurs at Saint Louis University, as well as throughout the region, the nation and the world.
For additional information, call (314) 977-3850 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.