Meet Shelby Park. The construction of the Interstate turned a dynamic neighborhood connected to downtown into a place cut off from economic activity.
By 2010, 20% of the population was gone, half were below the poverty line, fully a quarter unemployed. Now what?
Enter Bruce Butler, community activist. He knew what wouldn’t work — trying to fix houses one by one.
Instead of focusing on one piece — “housing”, “startups”, or “workforce” — as a grant maker, investor, or government might, Bryce thought, ”lets fire up the ecosystem all at once.” It’s as if the more local you go, the more you can bring together all the components of a community, compress them in a critical mass and reignite an economy.
He launched a new type of community institution: hyper-focused on street corners and neighborhoods, able to raise and manage multiple types of capital. And execute on all-at-onceness!
Within 2 years, 4-million bucks led to 8 residential properties, renovated by the formerly incarcerated or homeless, 4 commercial buildings with thriving local business, and 5 venture funded growth companies.
That formula didn’t stay secret for long.