First Ave hosts workshop to encourage people of color to start small businesses for north Minneapolis development

First Ave hosted a community workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs.

A project along the Minneapolis waterfront is promising big opportunities for business owners.

About 50 people turned out for Monday night’s kickoff for north side entrepreneurs. Organizers are hoping to encourage people of color to start a small business in north Minneapolis.

"I really just want to see what opportunities are available for people who are thinking about starting a business or who have business plans already in motion,” said Shaunte Douglas, a potential entrepreneur.

First Avenue is usually home to music, but on this night the legendary nightclub is changing its tune to focus on the potential future of north Minneapolis.

"I was thinking of doing a stationary space for black-owned businesses specifically especially on the north side," said Douglas.

The club is hosting a community workshop for people to learn about business opportunities with the Upper Harbor Terminal Project. The development would turn a former barge shipping terminal on the Mississippi River into a business and community hub, including an outdoor amphitheater which would operated by First Avenue.

"There is an opportunity for African-American and other people of color on vendors to establish themselves on the supply chain to First Avenue security and other things will be open for them," said Bill English of North Job Creation Team.

The workshop includes a panel discussion for potential entrepreneurs on the ups and downs of starting a business. The goal is connect African-American and indigenous people, who have an idea for a business on the north side, with resources like financing and technical expertise.

“I am a resident of the north side,” said Eric Won, one of the organizers at the kickoff meeting. “We also want to benefactors of the economic activity that will be generated in the Upper Harbor."

Some question if the project is what the north side really needs, but others say bringing an economic boost to this part of the city would be music to their ears.

"I just want to take away that if there are opportunities, I can pounce on them as soon as possible," said Douglas.

Organizers hope to hold similar workshops in the future.