“Good economic theory must give the people the chance to use their talents to build their own lives. We must get away from the traditional route where the rich will do the business and the poor will depend on private or public charity.”
After knocking on over 17,000 doors since the start of the Neighborhood Opportunity Network in 2009, we have met hundreds of low-income residents with clear aspirations for a better economic path. In response, IMPACT is supporting the development of neighborhood environments that stimulate and support the ability of residents to establish businesses where they can contriute their skills, express their aspirations, generate income, and build assets.
Through our deep work in community, we have learned that:
• The benefits of economic development policies and practices that bias toward big business and large scale projects are rarely felt or perceived at the neighborhood level where people of color live – like Long Branch.
• Jobs are simply not enough for people to achieve an adequate level of self-sufficiency and quality of life.
• The challenges and barriers that people in our Network encounter in starting their own businesses are significant and include: the lack of availability of legal and business development support that is both realizable and geographically and linguistically accessible, and lack of access to capital.
IMPACT's local economy work is two-pronged:
IMPACT’s bi-monthly Local Economy Activator is a mixing space designed to connect grassroots entrepreneurs to a wider network of nonprofit/government resources and potential buyers; encourage individuals and institutions to shift their purchasing power towards community businesses; and ignite actions leading to program improvements, and policy and systems changes.
Want to see a list of grassroots entrepreneurs offering a variety of goods and services? Click here.
IMPACT Network-builders “weave” a robust economic equity network by helping people identify their interests and challenges, connecting people strategically where there’s potential for mutual benefit, and serving as a catalyst for self-organizing groups. To date, this weaving has led to the formation of a 40 plus member investment cooperative [hyper link to newsletter story] and a green cleaning cooperative.