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Black Entrepreneurs Team Up To Create Startup Hub In Building Damaged In 2020 Riots

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The areas of south Minneapolis devastated by riots following George Floyd's murder are slowly rebuilding, and one neighborhood impacted is getting a big boost.

Black food and beverage entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities have joined forces, purchasing a building in the Longfellow neighborhood that was heavily damaged in the unrest.

Chris Montana, the founder of Du Nord Social Spirits, and Lachelle Cunningham, the chef and founder of Healthy Roots Institute, have teamed up with nonprofit developer Seward Redesign to build a community gathering space where entrepreneurs can test ideas and get experience.

"We're planning, we're fundraising, we are working with architects," Cunningham said.

South Minneapolis Startup Hub
(credit: CBS)

Montana's own distillery, located on East 32nd Street in the Longfellow neighborhood, was heavily damaged in the riots. He said that while the last two years have been a difficult journey, it's also been "incredibly reaffirming."

"We want it to be a fun and inviting space for people to come to," Montana said, describing the community hub project. "I think we need those spaces, especially after the couple of years that we have had."

The new venture is located at the heart of where the riots happened in 2020, within walking distance of the the looted Target store and the Minneapolis Police Department 3rd Precinct building, which was burned and remains shuttered.

The symbolism of the location is not lost on the innovators.

"This is definitely going to be helping with that coming back online, the catalyst for the redevelopment that is necessary," said Taylor Smrikarova, of Seward Redesign.

Construction on the building is set to begin early next year, and it's slated to open for business by summer of 2023.

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