June 11, 2014
Green Line service will officially begin on Saturday, ushering in a new era for businesses along the Central Corridor. Helping small businesses prepare for and survive construction was a priority for the Funders Collaborative. Small business success is vital to provide needed services and jobs for area residents, and to attract others to the Corridor.
Businesses on the Corridor were encouraged to use the last few years to upgrade and prepare for opportunities arising from the light rail. Thanks to assistance and their own preparation, most businesses along the line have weathered construction of the Green Line and are ready for the train to run. Some of the highlights featured in the 2013 Funders Collaborative Annual Report include:
- Business Planning and Technical Assistance. Coordinated by the Business Resources Collaborative, a dozen programs have been put in place to support and grow the Corridor’s small businesses—covering parking, joint marketing, technical assistance and financing. Of Central Corridor businesses that received the most intensive assistance from U7, a collaboration of local business support organizations, only 1% closed during construction. In fact, over the past four years, more street-level businesses fronting the Green Line have opened than have closed or moved from the Corridor.
- Small Business Loans and Grants. Small businesses in the Corridor have received more than $1.2 million in loans and grants to help them make preparations and improvements to boost their growth. In addition, small businesses received more than 270 Ready for Rail foorgivable loans worth more than $3.7 million that helped them weather business interruption during the construction phase.
- Co-marketing and Buy- local Efforts. Joint marketing highlighted distinct business districts and businesses in the Corridor. More than 40,000 Green Line Visitor’s Guides invited new customers to area businesses.
- The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP) consists of major education and health care organizations located near the Green Line. So far, members have signed three contracts worth $1.25 million buying products and services from local suppliers.
- With support from the Central Corridor as Cultural Corridor initiative, business districts have rallied to raise their profiles and promote the Central Corridor has a place to experience arts and culture. Promotion and special events have introduced customers to local businesses in the West Bank, Prospect Park, the Creative Enterprise Zone, Little Africa, the Historic Rondo Arts and Cultural District and Little Mekong. Erik Takeshita (Twin Cities LISC) and Jamie Schumacher (West Bank Business Association) talk more about the initiative and getting ready for rail in this short video.
Many of these businesses, partnerships and initiatives will be featured as a part of this weekend's Green Line opening celebration. Come celebrate the start of service and the healthy and diverse mix of businesses throughout the corridor.