A new full-service business center and coworking space on Prospect Avenue will do more than just fill the former Blue Hills Community Services building — better fulfilling its goal to create a clear path to economic prosperity and wealth, said Brandon Calloway.
“It’s always been the right time for a business center to open on the East Side,” said Calloway, the CEO and co-founder of the Kansas City-based nonprofit Generating Income For Future Generations (G.I.F.T. or Kansas City G.I.F.T) “A lot of the services that we are offering here have not been readily available to the community. Being in this location that is highly accessible has always been a necessity — and now [G.I.F.T.] has the money to do so.”
G.I.F.T. celebrated the grand opening of the business center Tuesday with remarks from community stakeholders and tours of the facility. It officially opens to the public Friday, April 1.
The 7,500-square-foot building offers a coworking space with 10 cubicles available for reservations; banking services from Lead Bank and Bank of Labor; accounting services from OCD Financial; legal services from Husch Blackwell; and marketing services from VMLY&R; as well as business classes, coaching and headshots.
“Our partners have been extremely supportive in offering their services at our business center,” Calloway noted. “Their services are crucial because, for example, we can bridge a banking gap with the East Side. There isn’t a strong banking presence here, but through our business center, people can form that relationship — and they are more likely to get access to capital or apply for help like when PPP came out.”
Check out a photo gallery from the ribbon-cutting and grand opening event, then keep reading.
The nonprofit organization launched in May 2020 with a mission to support Black-owned businesses in low-income areas. It does so through community-backed grants that generate sustainability and creation of Black businesses. G.I.F.T. awards to monthly grants to small business owners, with the grants ranging anywhere between $10,000 to $50,000.
Click here to apply for a grant from GIFT — or to donate to the organization.
For small business owner Nika Cotton, she is looking forward to sharing the coworking space with others who are on the same journey, she said.
“I’m excited to have a supportive environment to work in,” shared Cotton, the founder of Soulcentricitea and a previous G.I.F.T. grant recipient. “Having that community of other people who are also working on their business plans is really motivating. Plus, the team at G.I.F.T. is really passionate about small businesses and our growth. They are definitely a source that all business owners should connect with.”
Click here to learn more about the mission of Soulcentricitea.
Cotton plans to use the business center as she prepares to reopen the Soulcentricitea storefront later this year, she teased.
“I decided to close my storefront at the end of February to revamp my business plan, scale up and focus on my partnerships,” Cotton noted. “There’s a couple opportunities that I’m looking at, and now there will be a space for me to plan it all out.”
With more than 100 monthly applicants for G.I.F.T. grants, Calloway is excited to finally be able to reach everyone with an inclusive business center, he said, noting that accessibility was at the forefront when searching for a location.
“We’re right off the Prospect bus stop — as well as close to 47th St., which gives us a whole other bus route,” Calloway said. “And then there’s the importance of going further east than Troost.”
“There’s a lot of development happening on Troost, and you could argue that there is a lot of gentrification happening,” he continued. “So we wanted to make sure we got to Prospect before other people did, and provide a resource that this community can actually use.”
If Kansas City truly wants to become the most entrepreneurial city in the country, Calloway added, that means reaching all corners of the metro.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.