Northside Economic Empowerment Center celebrates one-year anniversary

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ST. LOUIS – January 9 marks the one-year anniversary of the St. Louis Development Corporation’s Northside Economic Empowerment Center, located inside the annex building of Sumner High School.

The center has one main focus.

“Serving residents and businesses right here in north St. Louis by providing access and resources for them to intergrow and rescale in their respective industries,” Neal Richardson, president and CEO of the St. Louis Development Corporation, said.

The center is only a small portion of the city’s $287 million economic justice plan, which Mayor Tishaura Jones and the St. Louis Board of Alderman initiated.

“The empowerment center… it meets people where they are. It lowers the barrier of entry for young people who are interested in growing a business or starting a business,” Jones said. “It gives someone the encouragement and support for someone to chase their dreams.”

The Northside Economic Empowerment Center had a goal of serving 1,000 residents per year, but in 2023, they exceeded that goal and served 2,600 residents in the region.

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“Because we know in order to move the city forward and move our families forward, we have to have a two-generational approach,” St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Keisha Scarlett said. “It has to happen for the children and their families at the same time.”

Over 60% of businesses that the Northside Economic Empowerment Center has served are women-owned businesses.

“To hear the level of impact it’s having on young women and them having the opportunity for them starting a business. And to see the leadership that Mr. Richardson had the opportunity finding these great women to lead this. I think that’s awesome,” Antionette “Toni” Cousins, president of the St. Louis Board of Education, said.

The center has a plan room where a lot of contractors that are bidding on city-owned projects come to finish their bid packages. They have a computer lab for all to utilize for creating or furthering their businesses.

“The Northside Economic Empowerment Center is just the beginning of our investment into economic empowerment opportunities within north St. Louis City,” Richardson said.

The Northside Economic Development Center will continue to be a cornerstone in the community for entrepreneurs and businesses in north St. Louis.


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