An economic development startup that is looking to create opportunity zones for Black entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids said Monday that it is launching a 16-year, $100 million capital campaign with a primary focus on raising funds from the private sector.
Preston Sain, co-founder, president and director of Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids (BWSGR), announced the soft launch of the group’s capital campaign through which it will seek to secure 100 pledges of $1 million each over 16 years.
The number 16 is significant, Sain said, because it is the number of years that it took to build the former Greenwood District — aka “Black Wall Street” — in Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a thriving business district before it was destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa massacre by white rioters.
Sain said BWSGR aims to secure 100 pledges from a diverse group of Fortune 500 company owners, corporations, CEOs, other donors and out-of-state investors by June 1 — the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre.
“We are currently structuring our accounting team, and we are excited about the number 100,” Sain said. “… We look to uphold the spirit of the original Black Wall Street founders and builders to develop Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids over the next 16 years.”
He said BWSGR’s goal is not only to make Grand Rapids “the No. 1 city for economics and quality of life” in the U.S., but to “restore the essence of Black Wall Street and inspire nationwide inclusion, economic excellence and wealth building” for Black citizens in America and abroad.
Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids is currently seeking a 501(c)3 nonprofit fiduciary partner for the capital campaign, which would make all pledged donations 100% tax deductible. For contributions that are classified as investments, Sain said there will be an “opportunity and option to become equity stakeholders in our districts where there is a fit and shared interest.”
“After we complete our campaign and confirm all 100 pledges, we then will set up our official meeting date with the mayor of Grand Rapids and the (Grand Rapids) City Commission to present our then completed business plan along with our 100 capital pledges on file,” he said. “This meeting will consist of approval of permits, zoning logistics in targeted districts, brand licensing and more. BWSGR aims for both private and public sector partnerships in our capital campaign with the main focus being the private sector. If and when city commission approval prevails, we then will officially accept all confirmed donation pledges into account with our nonprofit partner to begin the development of the BWSGR districts.”
The campaign will seek 16-year annual commitments of $62,500 from donors, partners and shareholders to begin developing the BWSGR districts, Sain said.
“The first and main priority district of development in Year One will be the Burton & Eastern Village district to support and build upon current and ongoing progress in the area,” he said.
Sain added that BWSGR, which began in June, has already seen an outpouring of community support from city officials, business owners and citizens of all races.
He said the nonprofit fiduciary for the capital campaign will be announced at a later date.
More information about Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids is on the group’s Facebook page.