Small Business Support
Even if you’ve lived in Ward 5 for years, you might not know that there’s a restaurant tucked inside the Max Mart on Burr Avenue located in the East Side of St. Paul (pictured above). At Dennis’ Southern Hospitality Grill you can order up everything from fried chicken and cornbread to veggies and rice. But honestly, until I was out door knocking, I didn’t know it was there either.
That’s one of the reasons I’m running to be your Ward 5 City Councilmember: We need to do so much more to support our small businesses and grow local, neighborhood economic development opportunities that make our community stronger.
We know small businesses have a big impact on our economy. Shopping local keeps dollars in our community, provides jobs — especially for our youth and elders — and makes it easy for residents to access the goods and services they need. It also advances public safety and environmental sustainability by making it possible to walk and bike, to be out of the isolation of our cars, to run an errand or grab a bite to eat.
But it’s more than that. Having vibrant local businesses isn’t just about dollars and cents. It’s about creating spaces we can come together as a community, organically building common ground among residents from different economic, political and racial backgrounds as neighbors equally invested in the future of our Ward.
I’m running for city council, because I want to collaborate with current and future business owners and entrepreneurs to make sure we’re lifting up and bringing forward the creativity and ingenuity that exists in all our neighborhoods: the North End, East Side and Como.
I know how challenging it can be to get started — and sustain — a small business. When I was the Executive Director at St. Anthony Park Community Council (SAPCC), I worked with small businesses along the University Avenue corridor and throughout the district, to help streamline the complicated variance and licensing processes at the city to make sure they could get their doors open in a timely matter. We also worked to make sure small businesses kept their doors open by actively promoting them in our newsletters and other outreach, and, when challenges came up, we supported business owners coming together to solve their collective issues around safety and inclusivity for their customers — and our community.
We need that level of active support, collaboration and solidarity in Ward 5 — and that’s what I would bring to City Hall.
Don’t get me wrong: There are many amazing businesses in Ward 5. My friends and family loves eating at Hearthside Pizza, a minority -owned restaurant on Rice Street, and my campaign yard signs come from Impact Printing, just a few blocks south from Rice street. And, last month, my girls and I had a blast at the Saturday Summer Block Party at Rice and Larpenteur, where we were able to connect with business owners and brighten our community with colorful sidewalk art.
But we need more. As I’m out talking to community, I hear neighbors desire for more healthy food options and economic opportunities. Imagine if families could walk to corners stores with fresh produce and greens; if we had healthy restaurants and smoothie shops on our main corridors; if we supported new entrepreneurs with spaces like a Kindred Kitchen to incubate and launch new catering and other micro-businesses.
As your city councilmember, I’m committed to working toward that vision by pursuing a number of specific policies, including:
Ensuring that every small business has had contact with their city council office within the first 30 days of opening
Connecting entrepreneurs with technical assistance to help alleviate barriers to start-up and business expansion
Connecting businesses with funding resource opportunities, including micro grants and loans
Creating a program to assist first-time business owners
Addressing barriers to and disparities in women- and minority-owned businesses
As residents, we know that Ward 5 is abundant in creative, passionate people and rich with opportunity for local economic development. Let’s work together to make sure we have the amenities we deserve and need — in all of our neighborhoods.