Our Program on Tuesday, December 19, 2023 was on the Rotary Community Core Project – Lake Street and presented by Suzanne Kochevar and Irene Kelly.  The project emanated from the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing looting and burning of Lake Street businesses.  The project was initiated by the Excelsior Morning Rotary Club to reach out and help the businesses and grew into an incredible long term effort with 8 clubs in District 5950.  Two major elements to start the project was to gain the trust of the business proprietors and to understand Lake Street’s many cultures.  The Community Core Project needed a trusted advisor the the business owners knew was reliable and that was the Lake Street Business Council.  With the help of the council the eight Rotary Clubs were each matched with a business.  The coordinator from the council helped the eight clubs to understand the culture of each business and its owners.  With 85% of the business being owned by minority and ethnic groups this was an essential step.                          
The next step was to get a long term commitment from each of the participating clubs and assign a point perso0n to work with the owner and to gain their trust and to work with each business and what the primary needs were to get restarted.  You can immagin the variety of needs; all the way from Advertising and PR while others needed help with completing and filing insurance forms, whild others needed to learn how to get grants and funding to restart their businesses.  The Rotary Core was able to offer educational opportunities in all areas.                         
Building Trust was a huge part of the core project and started basically from club members helping owners to put up plywood sheeting to board up the smashed windows and doors and an amazing trust was developed.  To kick start the core the created a community event with Open Houses for all of the eight businesses.  Even the Mpls. Mayor came out and pledged city support for the project and their owners.  They also held a project to clean up Lake Street!                          
The Core Project built in sustainability with goals and a strategic plan.  Their four main goals was to build sustainability in three years, business plans with immediate and future insight, reliable vendor list and the building of long term trusting relationship.  Logistics were important to get customers back and their stores up and running, attracting new customers and to hire back staff.    
There are now twelve businesses involved with more all the time because of the trust and long term commitment made by Rotary and the community.  Also the Core Project now has a model for others to use.  There is talk of using the plan now to help West Broadway to renew itself.  The Rotary Core Project has been successful due to establishing a long term trusted relationships and commitment to community.