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Creative Enterprise Zone Plan Released

May 31, 2011

Provided by Amy Sparks, Executive Director, St. Anthony Park Community Council, District 12

A vision of the future that builds on the past is what a broadly based group of stakeholders has arrived at for the South Saint Anthony Park/Central LRT Corridor.

Their plan was unveiled at the Midway Chamber of Commerce Hats Off to Central Corridor event with Mayor Chris Coleman, Councilmember Russ Stark and representatives of the Midway Chamber and Creative Enterprise Zone speaking.

The Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) group was sponsored by the Saint Anthony Park Community Council and began its formal work in September 2010. They affirmed the importance of the entrepreneurial history of the district and its more recent and complementary history as a magnet for artists, creative start-ups, and innovative nonprofits.  

CEZ committee Chair, Catherine Reid Day points out, “Older industries and the newer creative enterprises have much in common.  They share the need for inexpensive, flexible spaces that can be used for everything from welding, sawing, and coffee roasting, to drafting, filmmaking, and software development. By organizing together we hope that more people will make a living by their creative capacities and contribute to the prosperity of our community.”

The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative funded the group’s six-month planning initiative as part of its mission is to engage communities along the Corridor and link people to local amenities and regional opportunities.

The group’s plan recognizes the desire for an eclectic environment friendly to residents and visitors alike.  “One of the shared values we found was that people liked the mix of residential, commercial, industrial, and creative activities,” added Jon Schumacher, executive director of the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation, one of the funders of the planning process.  “The future we’re seeking honors the centuries-old heritage of this as a transportation hub where people lived and worked nearby.”

A variety of nonprofit organizations, including Gremlin Theatre, Minnesota Council on Nonprofits, IFP-Minnesota, and Forecast Public Artworks participated in the planning along with residents, major property owners, small businesses, bankers, city planners, and others. “Part of the reason that we drew this group together was to ensure we are able to maintain and advance the character of the neighborhood that we all truly enjoy and value,” said Amy Sparks, Executive Director of the St. Anthony Park Community Council.

The plan focuses on five major goals:

  • Stabilizing conditions that allow creative entrepreneurs, retail businesses, artists, residents, and nonprofits to thrive together. LRT and the pressures it brings have already begun to upset those conditions.
  • Foster collaboration among the eclectic neighbors in the hopes of attracting more creative and innovative entrepreneurs, including artists. 
  • Seek improvements to physical spaces and walkability to make the area a more-friendly place to bump into neighbors and visitors.
  • Promote the unique identity of this creative and productive area that is so centrally located between the two cities, one of its most important natural assets.
  • Finally, the plan calls for a growing coalition of existing partners who can work together to realize the group’s vision, something that Day and Schumacher happily acknowledge has already begun to solidify.

Further details on the plan and its action steps will be available on the Saint Anthony Park Community Council website.