St. Louis-area community welcomes new small businesses and food hall

October 29, 2021

U.S. Bank provided key financing to create opportunities for the Black-owned businesses that call Carter Commons home​.

Access to healthy food in the local community. Space for Black-owned businesses to expand locally. Job training for careers in the culinary field. The new Carter Commons just outside of St. Louis in Pagedale, Mo.has all this and more – and it’s the result of a grassroots initiative to fill an unmet need in the community.

“Carter Commons is here because community members said they wanted it to be,” said Chris Krehmeyer, president and CEO of Beyond Housing, the local nonprofit that made Carter Commons possible. Through their approach, Ask-Align-Act, the agency ensures that the residents’ opinions are taken into consideration; then, the resources are aligned to bring the programs and services the residents said they want in their community

U.S. Bancorp Development Corporation (USBCDC), the tax credit and community investment subsidiary of U.S. Bank, provided more than $1.9 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) for the project, which is the second phase of Pagedale Town Center. The first phase was a $55 million development that included a cinema and grocery store – in which USBCDC also invested NMTC – as well as a restaurant, bank and healthcare facility.

The new 20,000-square-foot building is named for longtime Pagedale Mayor Mary Louise Carter, who passed away in 2020. Most of the tenants are minority-owned businesses that viewed the move to Carter Commons as an opportunity to expand and energize their existing operations. These are Missouri Home Health and Therapy, Burn 365 Fitness, Goss’Up Pasta, Girlfriend’s Closet and Healthy Habits Smoothies.

Another tenant, Propel Kitchens, is a newly founded nonprofit commercial kitchen that will provide workforce development by teaching participants skills and the knowledge that will lead them to quality culinary careers.

The collaboration between Beyond Housing and the public and private sectors have played a key role in transforming Pagedale for the past two decades. These relationships have fostered innovation, help to plan for future growth and sustainability, and provided new sources of capital for the city’s economic development. The $6.5 million investment in this new commercial space is part of a comprehensive community development model, Beyond Housing’s 24:1 Initiative, that started two decades ago focused on several critical needs in helping communities like the city of Pagedale thrive.

USBCDC's intentional focus on racial equity supports U.S. Bank Access Commitment, announced earlier this year. U.S. Bank Access Commitment is a long-term approach to help build wealth while redefining how the bank serves racially diverse communities and providing more opportunities for employees of color.

“U.S. Bank is committed to advancing racial equity in the work we do and the communities we serve,” said Bill Carson, USBCDC vice president. “Pagedale Town Center has helped transform the community, and this latest phase continues that work. It’s the ideal project for New Markets Tax Credit investment, creating expansion opportunities for the Black -owned businesses that will call Carter Commons home. And we’re really excited about the work Propel Kitchens is doing – providing both culinary workforce development and a platform for small businesses to thrive.”

In fact, USBCDC also provided Propel Kitchens a $50,000 grant to support its culinary workforce development program.

 “This approach will help program participants understand what a career in the food industry can do to build their lives, wealth and to build stronger families and communities,” said Yvonne Sparks, president of Propel Kitchens.

“As a collaborative platform that provides culinary training, support for entrepreneurs, and access to jobs and new markets, Propel Kitchens' work benefits all of us,” said Chef Martín López, Propel Kitchen’s operations and culinary director. “Creating wealth-building opportunities, healthier food, better health outcomes and quality of life for the people we serve benefits the entire St. Louis community. It's a "win-win."

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