KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Excitement is starting to outweigh anxiety in a Kansas City, Missouri, neighborhood. People living in the city's predominantly Hispanic Westside have seen businesses move in, leading to fears of change pushing longtime residents out. To make sure everyone in the neighborhood has a chance to succeed, a group is building a business incubator.
The Center for Urban Enterprise should open in May 2020. Right now, construction is underway to transform an old tire storage facility at 2720 Jarboe Street into the incubator.
The past, present and future in one tweet:— Charlie Keegan (@CharlieKeegan41) September 26, 2019
The @kchedc is turning an old tire storage facility into its Center for Urban Enterprise.
It’ll be a biz incubator ensuring every person on the Westside gets an equal shot at success as outside investors come to the community. pic.twitter.com/akfAN8gUor
The Kansas City Hispanic Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) bought the building in 2009 and has worked with community members to develop a model that will help everyone.
"This is really a testimony of someone believing and wanting to plan a sustainable neighborhood and put things back into perspective where everyone can equitably rise in a city like Kansas City," explained Pedro Zamora, the HEDC executive director.
The Center for Urban Enterprise will focus on three main areas. First, there will be affordable space for rent inside the facility, where entrepreneurs can start small before “leaving the nest.”
Secondly, the center will offer workforce training. These classes will teach people skills to start their own business, or make them more hireable to other businesses which open in the community. Zamora said the training will focus on tech skills like coding and IT security.
Finally, the space will include six commercial kitchens to give people with culinary ideas a chance to scale up. The kitchens will be available for rent by the hour and that money will help cover the building's operating costs, Zamora explained.
WATCH | Virtual tour of the Center for Urban Enterprise:
He said the Center for Urban Enterprise should encourage people in this neighborhood to invest in themselves and their community.
"We want to see that kind of improvement. And when we see that, we are more accepting to be a participant to that," said Christi Guerra, who married into a family that's lived on the Westside for about 90 years.
The HEDC is paying for part of this project. It also received a $1.6 million federal grant and this weekend will launch a fundraising campaign.