Economic Development & Workforce

Communities of Opportunity

King County, WA

Commercial Affordability Pilot

Project Details

Uncommon Bridges served as the lead engagement and facilitation partner in the development of Communities of Opportunities’ Commercial Affordability Pilot. The initiative identified and tested ways to support, preserve, and grow Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) owned businesses who either have been displaced or were at risk of being displaced from their neighborhoods across King County due to rising costs and lack of access to capital.

In partnership with Grow America, Craft3, and Moving Beyond, Uncommon Bridges conducted 24 key stakeholder interviews and virtually convened a 20-person Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on a regular basis. The group was made up of BIPOC small business owners, community organizations, lenders, and local government representatives. It represented a diverse set of expertise, perspectives, and representation of community needs across King County including: Seattle’s Central Area, Rainier Valley, Chinatown International District, Tukwila, SeaTac, Burien, Kent, and unincorporated areas of such as White Center, and Skyway.

While the deliberate understanding that systemic barriers have historically disenfranchised BIPOC communities from accessing the resources needed to address their issues, our accountability to these communities and facilitation of an inclusive process provided these folks a significant voice in the direction of this process. As a result, the partnerships, capacity, and knowledge shared between the TAG and the consultant team led to the development of several viable commercial affordability projects.

In December 2023, Communities of Opportunity reconvened project partners and other national leaders in a Commercial Affordability Summit moderated by Ishmael Nuñez. The Summit shared learnings from the Commercial Affordability pilot project and provided a platform for learning about additional strategies, models, and programs that are currently being designed and implemented to support an equitable and thriving small business environment and greater economic justice.

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