The Enterprise Center recently opens new community resource hub
Earlier this month, The Enterprise Center celebrated the opening of a new community resource hub in West Philadelphia’s 52nd Street corridor.
The new three-story structure had been in development and construction for over two years, and represents a significant milestone for its two affiliates — the Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation and its CDFI, The Enterprise Center Capital Corporation.
“We set out with one singular goal when we first conceived of this project,” said Enterprise Center CEO Della Clark in a statement. “Make proof of concept around a holistic commitment to minority contracting.”
She added that the new hub was built entirely by diverse contractors of color, and is part of an effort to address “empty promises” and “unfulfilled potential.”
“The thriving 52nd Street we see in the future will require more investment and innovative thinking to create a truly equitable growth environment. We welcome more partners who would like to learn and utilize best practices for minority contracting,” Clark highlighted.
The emphasis on diverse contractors of color is a product of the fact that while Philadelphia’s population is 44% Black, about 75% of the city’s building trades members are white.
The Enterprise Center believes that growing MBE construction firms is one critical way to increase access to the high-wage jobs for Philadelphia’s Black and Hispanic residents.
“We see the value in investing in economic corridors and the people who help them thrive,” said Otis Rolley, head of Philanthropy and Community Impact at Wells Fargo.
The Wells Fargo Foundation bestowed a $1.5 million grant to help The Enterprise Center engage contractors from the community to build the resource center and empower them to take on the project.
“Helping small businesses grow means working together to open access to new opportunities,” Rolley added.
Overall public and philanthropic funding for the project totaled approximately $2.5 million.
The 16 different MBE contractors were provided with mentorship from prime contractor LF Driscoll, wraparound business advisory services and matchmaking from the PA MBDA Business Center, bonding education from The Enterprise Center’s federal Mid-Atlantic Small Business Transportation Resource Center and working capital from The Enterprise Center Capital Corporation CDFI.
Mike Delaney, executive vice president of LF Driscoll noted being “humble to partner with an extraordinary organization like The Enterprise Center.”
“We see this as but a small first step in what will prove to be an exponentially valuable partnership. Mentoring the next generation of minority tradesmen and women will fuel the future growth of our city, with benefits that will reach far into communities. We are excited to continue this work and further invest in our city’s workforce,” he added.
Melvin Brown is the owner of 3rd Generation Design and Construction, and was one of the MBE firms selected to work on the project.
He noted how the number of accounts has doubled since his firm began working on the project.
“The Enterprise Center has been very helpful in providing access to capital to fund larger jobs, as well as assisting me with maintaining payroll and buying equipment,” said Brown.
The new Community Resource Hub will house offices for The Enterprise Center CDC on the first floor, while the second and third floors will house market-rate apartments, which will provide much-needed housing for individuals living and working along the corridor.