St. Louis Development Corporation Board Grants Approval for Creation of Northside Economic Empowerment Center to Support Business Growth and Community Development

The NEEC will be a technical assistance hub to support the growth and development of North St. Louis small businesses.

March 17, 2022 | 2 min reading time

Today, the St. Louis Development Corporation Board voted to grant approval for the opening of a Northside Economic Empowerment Center, currently proposed to be based at Sumner High School. Funded through $1.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation signed by Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, the Northside Economic Empowerment Center will be a technical assistance hub to support the growth and development of North St. Louis small businesses.

“We cannot succeed as a city, together, if one half is allowed to fail,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “With the American Rescue Plan Act, St. Louis is thinking outside the box to create new opportunities for families and entrepreneurs across our city to build generational wealth while priming our neighborhoods for equitable growth for decades to come.”

A part of Mayor Jones’ commitment to North St. Louis and reversing decades of disinvestment, the Northside Economic Empowerment Center will connect residents to technical assistance including certification workshops for minority-owned and women-owned businesses, digital training and resources, procurement education and more.

“Making our city more equitable across racial lines and zip codes means thinking outside the box,” said SLDC Executive Director Neal Richardson. “Through the Northside Economic Empowerment Center, the City will bring resources directly to the neighborhoods that have lacked access to these tools while collaborating to use community anchors in new and innovative ways.”

Partners for the prospective center include the Small Business Empowerment Center, Missouri Business Development Agency, Mastercard Digital Doors, Maryville University, St. Louis Lambert Airport Business Diversity Development, the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), and more. These partners will bring a wealth of knowledge to educate, support, and assist current and potential business owners.

"The creation of a Northside Economic Empowerment Center will help connect entrepreneurs with resources to start and grow their businesses, strengthening our communities," said Alderwoman Dwinderlin Evans (4). "I welcome this commitment to North City and the opportunities it brings to our neighborhoods."

The proposal would utilize a portion of Sumner High School while keeping it open and operating for students, teachers, and the community. It now moves to Saint Louis Public Schools (SLPS) for review.

Directing nearly $500 million to St. Louis, the American Rescue Plan Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in St. Louis families, reverse decades of disinvestment in our neighborhoods, and strengthen our communities. From direct payments to help thousands of families put food on the table to connecting city youth to free public transit opportunities, the Northside Economic Empowerment Center is another example of how St. Louis is trying innovative solutions to address old problems. All funds must be allocated by 2024 and spent by 2026.

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