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City leaders and entrepreneurs celebrate Black August with plans to elevate the southeast side

Multicultural group of entrepreneurs standing in front of a restaurant with "Black Wallstreet" written in balloons behind them
Preston Sain
Black Wallstreet GR
Black Wallstreet GR

City leaders and entrepreneurs gathered in Grand Rapids' southeast side on Wednesday to celebrate Black August and push initiatives forward to grow Black business in the area. The meet up was hosted by Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids, an organization that is working to "revitalize" the Burton and Eastern district.

"That particular strip on Eastern is a beloved strip in the Black community historically, and right now it's about 90% vacant and distressed," Preston Sain, President and Co-founder of Black Wallstreet GR said, "We want to revive it and beautify it and fill it with Black-owned business that is providing quality services, product and is welcoming to all races."

Sain said there's significance in holding these discussions during Black August, a time celebrating freedom fighters in the Black community.

"Black August is a historical holiday, birthed in the 1970’s that celebrates political prisoners, freedom fighters, revolutionaries of our time,” Sain explained, "This is a day to remember some of the fights and struggles, a time for healing a time of unity and now in this new time in history we’re embarking on economic prosperity.”

Black Wallstreet GR is in the midst of a $100 million capital campaign, raising funds for the project. Sain said the gathering was a way to share his vision with community members and hear more about what resources they would like to bring into the community.

“We’re looking at coffee shops, book shops, small fitness studios, of course small restaurants," Sain shared.

No final decisions have been made in terms of what will fill the vacant spaces. Sain said the group is expected to take applications after funds from the campaign are finalized.

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