Community partners officially launch Neighbors United Funding Collaborative near Allianz Field
This week, community partners from neighborhoods surrounding Allianz Field launched the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative, a community benefits fund designed to support area residents, businesses, and organizations as the stadium superblock development moves forward. Now, they’re asking for area residents and businesses to get involved.
“Our goal from the beginning was to make sure the community had a seat at the table,” Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao explained. “The funding collaborative will help us leverage financial support from partners of all sizes to benefit the families and businesses in the area.”
“The vision for this fund is guided by, and will continue to be guided by, years of community engagement and neighborhood conversations,” added Councilmember Mitra Jalali Nelson, who represents Ward 4 including the Midway neighborhood on the Saint Paul City Council. “We’ve heard loud and clear that neighbors want to support local, POCI- and immigrant-owned businesses and longtime residents that have called this area home, and this fund aims to be one of many tools that can help us do that.”
The NUFC has been shaped over time by community representatives from the Community Benefits Fund Task Force laid out in a 2016 City Council resolution authored by Thao.
Over the last year, the task force gathered thoughts, ideas, and aspirations for the creation of this community benefits fund and what it might support, including nearly 900 neighborhood comments during initial outreach. Focusing on preventing commercial displacement and supporting small and immigrant/POCI-owned businesses was a priority for just over half of the commenters (478). Other categories like placemaking, beautification, public art, and public health through sanitation were a priority for just under half of the comments (402).
Ideas ranged from façade improvements for local businesses to public art installations, such as sidewalk planters and artist-inspired benches. Ideas aimed to support business development, beautify streetscapes and encourage foot traffic and vibrancy. The Neighbors United Funding Collaborative will now be tasked with implementing that vision, with operational support from both Union Park District Council and Hamline Midway Coalition.
“We’re excited to help make investments in the neighborhood that match the vision laid out in these community conversations,” said Brandon Long, Executive Director of Union Park District Council. “As the site and surrounding area are fully developed, we’re fully committed to helping existing residents and organizations benefit from that development.”
Those investments will be overseen by an advisory committee with community representatives from area neighborhoods, local businesses, soccer supporters groups, and those with expertise in development.
“This is going to be a community-led process,” explained Kate Mudge, Executive Director of Hamline Midway Coalition. “We’ve created a lean operation with help from the St. Paul Foundation, the collaborative’s fiscal sponsor, and now we invite neighbors to join us in supporting and implementing it.”
Mudge and Long encourage all community members interested in serving on the NUFC committee to complete the short online NUFC Board Application or reach out to Brandon Long with any questions. The goal is to have advisory committee members in place by the start of the new year to get work underway.
“We need folks with experience in small business, fundraising, grantmaking, marketing - all the above,” Mudge said.
To learn more about how you can support the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative, visit https://www.givemn.org/story/Nufc.