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Background

In 2023, our Economic Empowerment initiative has taken some remarkable steps forward! Our efforts have secured more than $1.4 million, thanks to the incredible support of TogetherNow, Empire State Development, ESL, Senator Schumer, Congressman Morelle, Senator Brouk, and Assembly Member Meeks. These funds were used to acquire and renovate vital community spaces that were at risk of foreclosure. We are collaborating with economic development partners to restore these properties to their original purpose – serving the community. A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) will be established to ensure that the spaces are used solely for the benefit of the local community and neighborhood, revolutionizing neighborhood Economic Empowerment through our work.

Connected Communities has acquired a total of seven parcels in the neighborhood, including five commercial properties and two vacant lots. As a result, we are excited to announce the launch of the Greenwood Project.

Major Components

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Beechwood Neighborhood HUB

The Beechwood Neighborhood HUB will be a community gathering spot and home to community partners.

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Business Development

Seeding, subsidizing, and providing intense business coaching, as well as commercial space to neighborhood BIPOC owned businesses.

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Connect Lab

The Connect Lab will provide a shared workspace for entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations to work together, brainstorm, and deliver solutions for our community.

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Wealth Demonstration Project

One business will act as a Wealth Demonstration Project. Connected Communities will sell the property to the owner after 1-3 years of profitable growth.

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Community Investment Trust

Providing investment opportunities for neighborhood residents who would not otherwise have resources to invest and grow their money.

Beechwood Neighborhood HUB

The new Beechwood Neighborhood HUB is currently undergoing renovations. Upon completion, the HUB will serve as a multi-generational programming site that will offer an array of services including onsite health and wellness programming, financial empowerment workshops, youth engagement activities, business center needs and a community gathering event space.

Connect Lab

Connected Communities is committed to promoting collaboration between entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations through its vibrant shared workspace. At the Connect Lab, individuals from various backgrounds converge to work together, brainstorm, and craft innovative solutions tailored to our community's needs. Through this collaborative effort, we strive to leverage collective creativity and expertise to tackle pressing challenges and foster positive social change.

 

Progress Report:

The Connect Lab building has gone through the entire environmental testing process. The asbestos and lead have been abated. We are now waiting on building permits to begin construction.

Nuts & Blots

The Community Investment Trust initiative offers residents of Beechwood and EMMA the opportunity to invest between $10 and $100 per month in commercial properties, creating equity for themselves and their families. The project focuses exclusively on neighborhood-based entrepreneurs and investors, with The Greenwood Project developing community-operated businesses and a wealth demonstration project.

By injecting direct capital through investments, loans, and grants to neighborhood businesses, The Greenwood Project aims to reduce business owners' debt and simultaneously stimulate growth. The project's primary goal is to eliminate systemic barriers hindering BIPOC entrepreneurs from starting and sustaining their businesses.

The project connects budding entrepreneurs with experts who can help them navigate ideation, financing, and start-up and provides readily accessible support services delivered directly at the Neighborhood HUB. The project is a collaborative effort between public-private partnerships, pooling resources to support BIPOC entrepreneurs and stimulate economic growth.

Meeting Room

Wealth Demonstration 

Project

In the initiative, a single business will be designated as the Wealth Demonstration Project. Once the business showcases its ability to thrive, Connected Communities will transfer ownership of the commercial property to the business owner, typically within 1-3 years of consistent profits and growth.

A vital aspect of this process is the establishment of a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for all participating businesses to guarantee community welfare. This legally binding agreement outlines the mutual expectations of both parties, ensuring that the businesses' activities contribute positively to the community. Importantly, the CBA prioritizes the long-term benefit of the community as a whole, rather than favoring any individual entity.

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