Minneapolis businesses in the West Bank are beginning to experience a resurgence
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) – An immigrant community in the heart of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, also known as the West Bank, in Minneapolis is home to dozens of small businesses.
More than two years since the start of the pandemic and the death of George Floyd, the boards are starting to fall.
“Some businesses have been vandalized, some windows have been smashed, glass has been smashed,” says Abdu Mahmoud of the West Bank Business Association. He has lived in the community for over 10 years. “It’s the lifeline of the neighborhood. All of these businesses generate resources and generate taxes for the government. Also provide job opportunities for residents.”
The community lifeline is currently undergoing a revitalization.
“So in this showcase, you’ll see, the windows are nice and clean and we’ve put some really pretty magnolia decals on the glass,” says local designer and architect, Joan Vorderbruggen. She leads the storefront beautification project.
“Here we have a mannequin with some of the clothes you can buy in the store, some of the artwork that’s available,” says Vorderbruggen.
The idea here, she says, is to preserve the neighborhood’s character and heritage. Work started here in July.
“I think this particular trade corridor is very unique because it’s predominantly Somali and has such a special historical background that I think it’s wonderfully unique,” Vorderbruggen says.
In recent years, some display cases have been cleaned and redesigned.
“We acted very quickly and had a great time building relationships with businesses and owners and finding out what they need,” says Vorderbruggen.
Mahmoud says his role is to connect businesses to artists. He believes that even the smallest change can have a big impact.
“Our hope is that this neighborhood revitalization, it’s going to bring a lot of people to this neighborhood, support small businesses and do business with them, which is basically what we’re trying to do,” says Mahmoud.
The West Bank Business Association commissioned the project. The source of funding is from a grant. Currently, the focus is on three blocks on Cedar Avenue and there may be plans for expansion.