Kent Downtown Partnership: Supports for Immigrant-Owned Microenterprises
Kent Downtown Partnership (KDP) supports microenterprises and small businesses by creating community connections, promoting businesses, and liaising between businesses and the City, and activating a strong network of volunteers. KDP primarily serves 40 core businesses, nearly all of which are microenterprises. Approximately 75% of the owners are women or Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC).
KDP is proud of the cultural diversity of its businessowners and recognizes that some immigrant businessowners – often microentrepreneurs who have had successful businesses in their native countries – may need additional support to navigate City policies and procedures. KDP connects these businessowners to cultural agencies that can provide language support or other assistance.
In one recent example, a new community member sought to open an African variety grocery store. KDP Executive Director Gaila Haas noticed that the store windows had been covered for months, which indicated to Gaila that there may have been a roadblock. Gaila reached out to the landlord to learn more and connect with the owner, then met with the city; reached out to a relevant cultural organization, Mother Africa; connected with staff from the StartZone entrepreneur program at Highline College; and finally spoke to a director at the Food Innovation Network’s Small Business Development Center at Highline College, which works with immigrants seeking to open hospitality or food businesses. Through these connections, Gaila provided the support that the owner needed to continue opening their business.
Kent is a large city with many competing shopping districts. KDP is working to elevate community awareness to draw more customers to the microenterprises downtown.
Read the full case study in the Main Street & Microenterprise report.