By Alberto O. Cappas
Think/Vision: Business and Economic Development in the Buffalo “Minority” Community:
This is my message that I’ve been repeating over and over, its a message directly to the Black and Latino businesses and “their” elected leaders: The White community benefits from having designed zones or districts such as Elmwood Village, Allentown, Hertal, and now the Canelside.
There is a crucial need for all the (appropriate) Black businesses to work together, and create or develop their own zone or district, make sure to convince most of your African-American art, cultural, and entertainment organizations to relocate to the area, get other Black businesses to relocate to that area, promote and market it as the Art and Cultural District of the Black community. If have to, go out and recruit other Black businesses from outside of Buffalo to also relocate to the Black zone or district.
I survey several Black businesses during the Allentown & Elmwood festivals and they said yes, they would love to see such a Black District, and they would relocate if such a district existed. Jefferson, Fillmore, and other East Side areas would be perfect to develop a dedicated district. There is local, state, and federal funds to help to jump-start this vision, incentives to move, and incentives for tax abatement, etc, etc. A committed promotional and marketing project would bring the human traffic. You have the Peace Bridge, and other surrounding areas that would bring the human traffic. I myself, as a Puerto Rican poet/writer, and publisher, would have a location there, and with my ties to Central Harlem and el Barrio in New York City, would work to attract Black and Latino businesses to Buffalo. I’ve talked to several Black leaders and Latino leaders, but it goes nowhere.
A vision of this nature, would create real business & economic development into the Black community, plus create jobs, jobs, jobs, and will also help to development Black Home ownership. This is a win-win for the community, and to the whole city as well.
Alberto O. Cappas, poet/writer, publisher, and Co-Chair, Puerto Rican Committee for Community Justice.