First, the SLDC’s Project Connect, a strategic effort to connect the public and private sectors in the six area neighborhoods surrounding the National Geospatial Headquarters which is expected to complete construction in early 2026.
SLDC’s President and CEO says, “When the City of St. Louis was awarded the National Geospatial Headquarters, one of the responsibilities was for us to create neighborhood plans for six neighborhoods that will be surroundings NGA West. We have conducted almost 100 of meetings with those residents in those neighborhoods. We understand that the voices of those neighborhoods, and businesses are critical to the success of those areas long term not just for the city but also for NGA.”
The six area neighborhoods include St. Louis Place, Old North St. Louis, Jeff VanderLou, Carr Square, Columbus Square and Hyde Park.
Image by Alexander Andrews
Two residents are excited about the progress of the Project Connect efforts. Kim Porter is a longtime North St. Louis resident who has been an active participant in the meetings, “when I first moved into the area 32 years ago, the area was very distressed. We progressed along in the years and the area has come up tremendously as new business are coming to the area.”
Porter says residents feel like their voices are being heard, and she is excited to see the rebirth happening.
Fatimah Muhammad is opening up the Be Well Café in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The café is under construction and once it opens, will serve as a coffee shop and business hub that will give residents a place to gather and offer commercial kitchen space for local restauranteurs.
Muhammad had a vision for rehabbing the space. She says, “I saw it was vacant for 15 years and it was just crumbling down. I thought this will be cool to renovate and have our offices here. It’s a gorgeous space on the main thoroughfare. It was time for us to stop saying what we can’t do over here and start to do something, so we purchased it.”
Lance Knuckles is the Senior Vice President at the SLDC and overseas the Neighborhood Transformation Pillar. He is encouraged by the voices of the public and private sectors, “We always know residents want safety and access to quality housing, two very strong pillars to support a neighborhood growing and thriving. But I think residents are looking for ways to create education centers, how are we educating families to attract families back to the City of STL. Residents have raised questions stronger relationship with govt, how our decisions might impact their lives.”
As for the other initiative, Lance is focused on the North St. Louis Small Business and Non-Profit Grant Program which began accepting applications on Aug. 1 This program is allocating $37 million of federal coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds to assist small businesses and nonprofits that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Applications from small business must be completed by Monday, Oct. 30. Businesses must be eligible established small businesses or nonprofits as defined in the grant application.
Lance says, “The program is targeted for a business located on or North of Delmar located in HUD qualify or within the Economic Justice 1 and 2. This allows businesses to really understand this program does provide support to the entire North St. Louis City.”
To apply for a grant or to learn if your business is eligible for the North St. Louis Small Business Grant, click here.