Holt urges more investment in minority assets

The Kindred Spirits bar and community hangout space is one of the businesses operating in the EastPoint development on block 1700 NE 23rd Street. (Courtesy photo / Kindred Spirits)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City is making intentional investments to ensure that minority-owned small businesses have the resources they need to grow and thrive, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Continuing racial and geographic disparities and generational poverty continue to restrict black people’s access to corporate credit, investment capital and mentoring, Mayor David Holt wrote in a recent opinion piece in The Hill, co-author of Levar Stoney, mayor of Richmond, Virginia.

The two mayors indicated the investments their cities have made to address the disparities. “Doing so will not only empower those entrepreneurs, it will strengthen our entire economy for years to come,” they said. he wrote.

“Oklahoma City is moving in the right direction with its investment commitment, but there are still gaps,” said black entrepreneur Quintin Hughes, noting that only 2% of small business owners are black. Meanwhile, the United States Census reports that 14% of the city’s residents are black.

“There really is a growth opportunity there,” said Hughes. “I am optimistic about the investment we are committed to and the opportunity to achieve parity. The concern is that we continue to invest in this and more “.

Hughes is co-owner of Kindred Spirits, a bar and hangout space in the EastPoint development. EastPoint is located on the 1700 block of NE 23rd Street, what was once a bustling commercial corridor.

It took Hughes and his business partners more than a year to get the $ 100,000 in funding for their project because the site was on the east side, where backers have avoided investing for decades, he said.

Years of divestment and the resulting economic condition of the area made it nearly impossible to convince lenders that a project could be viable, Hughes said.

In fact, EastPoint developer Jonathan Dodson said 26 banks refused to finance the development before Citizens Bank of Edmond agreed.

Dodson’s Pivot Project Development purchased two buildings totaling 38,000 square feet. The former became the new home for Centennial Health, a community clinic. The first tenant in the second building was Intentional Fitness, followed by Kindred Spirits. The complex is also home to The Market in Eastpoint.

Pivot has granted EastPoint tenants a stake in the project. Those who sign a 10-year lease have 15% ownership in their own spaces.

This is the kind of community development that Northeast OKC Renaissance Inc. members have advocated, Hughes said. The group’s goal is development from within to improve the quality of life of Northeast Oklahoma City residents through economic prosperity and the preservation of cultural traditions.

EastPoint’s success will make it easier for future projects in the area to secure funding, but there is concern about what those projects might be, Hughes said.

“The fear in our community is displacement, the fear of cultural erasure,” he said, “basically what Deep Deuce is today.”

The once predominantly African-American downtown neighborhood has been revitalized to the point where black-owned and operated businesses were expensive.

“A great opportunity here is to learn from communities across the country that have suffered from gentrification,” Hughes said. “We want people here to take advantage of economic opportunities. We are looking for an alliance rather than an exploitation “.

An example of Oklahoma City’s investment in minority-owned small businesses was the creation of the Small Business Continuity program, which uses federal aid to help businesses overcome the challenges caused by COVID-19.

The OKC Rescue program offers small business owners and nonprofits with 100 or fewer full-time employees a second round of financial support to cover business services such as marketing, accounting or business planning, exterior facade enhancements, or cost mitigation expenses. COVID-19 such as ventilation and outdoor seating.

Hughes, who works asstrategic consultant for community development to Echo Investment Capital, said the company has “demonstrated a willingness to put their money where their mouths are.”

“My role allows me to create impactful investment funds focused on real estate and small business development in northeastern Oklahoma City,” he said.

Part of the solution is to educate entrepreneurs about alternative access to capital and venture capital opportunities, Hughes said. The future of the city The Henrietta B. Foster Center for Northeast Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship will be an important part of the educational process, she said.

MAPS 4 includes $ 15 million for the center, which will focus on minority and disadvantaged businesses.

“This city will be in a better place in five years, 10 years, 20 years,” Hughes said.

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