Opportunity Centers


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Opportunity Centers


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Concept

One of the most important social values is the creation or support of jobs. We define an Opportunity Center as an urban space that attempts to provide facilites for this purpose, specially for the underpriviliged. The centers may provide this in the form of business support, training, working spaces, or through proximity, as outlined below. A related concept, not discussed in detail here,  is the legal term of an Opportunity Zone [1], which is a geographical zone  designated for tax benefits so as to encourage investments.


Business Incubators

Some of the urban spaces that we present can be classified as "incubators" in that they provide facilities for small businesses to start at a small scale untill they are able to solidify their product or service. The Flint Food Works, for example, provides kitchen facilities to allow the development of new food businesses. Another example is the Crosstown Arts Shared Art Making that provides art-making facilities and equipment for new artisitc or craft-related businesses.



Photo ©  Project for Public Spaces,
Flint Farmer's Market Interior

Pop-up Spaces

A simple form of startup business support is what is classified as "pop-up" spaces. These spaces are normally experimental or temporary setups that can be used as part of a revitalization effort, specially because of their low-cost:


A pop-up retail space is a venue that is temporary: the space could be a sample sale one day and host a private cocktail party the next evening. The trend involves "popping up" one day, then disappearing anywhere from one day to several weeks later. These shops, while small and temporary, can build up interest by consumer exposure. Pop-up retail allows a company to create a unique environment that engages their customers and generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity.[2]


Targetted Training

Many educational institutions provide specialized training in business techniques and crafts, often with goverment funding, but some urban spaces provide community based training in a more supportive environment. For example, the The Santa Fe Teen Arts Center, provides job skills training in the the performing, media and visual arts in a youth entertainment context.


Localism

Location has allways been an important ingredient of business success. Traditional small towns have provided opportunities for local business to flourish. As large commerciqal chains and online shopping have hurt many small businesses, the renewed interest in mixed use communities may provide new possibilites, but a change in attitude may be required. The value of nearby or walkable shops has to be recognized, even if there is some price penalty. People often do not include transporation expenses and resulting environmental effects in their purchasing equations.





Photo ©  Dialog Design Crosstown Concourse View

At Crosstown Concourse, for example, synergy was part of the planning objectives, anchored in arts, education and healthcare which were viewed as existing strengths of the region. Quoting Dr. Richardson, one of the planners: "The planning teamís goal was to go beyond mixed use ó to put people and partners not just near each other, but in connection with each other. Organizations have actually taken the initiative to figure out how to be better together and not just co-locate, whether it be programs or space or actually sharing employees."[3] To facilitate these conversations, Crosstown  created a "Better Together" department that helps current and potential tenants see the possibilities of collaboration.


Disclaimer

This website is not a professional guide, but an editing of existing referenced material for educational purposes. The website author assumes no responsibility for any problems resulting from using the material presented in this website.


[1] Wikipedia: Opportunity zones

[2] Wikipedia: Pop-up Retail

[3] Style Blueprint:Crosstown Concourse