The Business Loop Community Improvement District is pleased to present our 2022 Annual Report.
It’s been another busy year for us as we continue to move forward on some key Loop projects. It’s the second year of our Street Art Project—an outdoor gallery of works by local artists and graphic designers—and it’s become even more popular with Columbians. Big thanks to all the Loop businesses who volunteered to host a piece of art. We’ve also landscaped the Pop-Up Park and added a new herb garden for additional beautification along the street. And as always, our Pop-Up Park is host to events such as our STEAM Bus Brunch and our Maker Markets.
On the economic development side, we took a big step forward and began work on a permanent location for the CoMo Cooks Shared Kitchen. We secured a $250,000 grant from the City of Columbia to build and outfit the kitchen and partnered with Root Cellar and Greenbelt Land Trust on a nearly $600,000 USDA grant to support local farmers interested in developing and manufacturing value-added food products.
Construction has begun on a 3200 square foot space at 14 Business Loop E. that’s large enough to house the shared kitchen, the Loop office, and The Packing House, our new production space for growers. The kitchen is a catalytic project for the street which will provide space and support for local food-based businesses, create opportunities for those without easy access to a commercial kitchen, reduce barriers for women and minority chefs, and enhance the economic vitality of the Business Loop. Importantly, the kitchen fits nicely with the existing Loop businesses and the other shared spaces along the street.
We could not have accomplished these projects without help from business owners, property owners, residents, and fans who like what we’re doing here on the Business Loop. We’re truly changing how people view the Business Loop and it’s because of you’re letting folks know all the good things happening here.
On behalf of the entire board we'd like to thank everyone for their support, their input, and their commitment to making The Loop a vital, welcoming, and innovative corridor.
The Loop has always been a place for creative industries, fix-it shops, and those who believe that if you're not wearing coveralls, you're not really working. Now, we're turning this same attention to the individual makers and creatives who love what they do and take pride in a job well done.
We're not just reaching out to Columbia's hidden economy of makers, we're creating pathways for those left out of the traditional funding and start up process, often women and minorities, so we can expand the Loop economy while remaining true to the character of the street.
The Loop CID took over full management of the shared kitchen and with the closure of Mizzou North, we were immediately faced with finding a new location. We found a 3200 square foot street-level space right across the street with enough room for both our office and a permanent kitchen. We secured a $250,000 Workforce Development Grant from the City of Columbia for build-out and equipment and construction has begun. This kitchen will be a catalyst for increased economic activity on the street.
Our newest initiative is a manufacturing component of the shared kitchen called The Packing House, designed to help local farmers transform their crops into value-added products. We teamed up with Root Cellar and Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri on a nearly $600,000 USDA grant to strengthen regional food supply chains. Farmers can now process crops in our kitchen, freezing and packaging fruits and vegetables for for retail and wholesale distribution.
Small startups can’t always afford a stand alone location so we’re turning to shared spaces as a way to foster new businesses. Our CoMo Cooks Shared Kitchen provides accessible, inclusive, and affordable kitchen space for starting and expanding local food-based businesses. The MACCLab at Parkade Plaza is a community makerspace with 3D printing, woodworking, industrial sewing machines, a long-arm quilter, and more. And Vidwest Studios is a community digital media studio focusing on photography, video, and podcasting. As businesses outgrow these shared spaces, we can help them find their own shop right here on The Loop
As affordable as shared spaces can be for start-ups membership fees can pose an obstacle, particularly for those who have been historically impacted by racial, social, and economic inequality. As part of the City of Columbia’s grant, the MACCLab Makerspace has been awarded $75,000 for scholarships and CoMo Cooks has been awarded $15,000 for minority scholarships. We already have two scholarship recipients working out of our kitchen and it’s a great way for us to help new business start-ups.
A grant from Etsy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth allowed us to launch the CRE Maker City campaign on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites. The goal was to recruit makers to our shared spaces, advertise our online Makers Directory, and position The Loop as a place that welcomes and supports local makers and creatives. The campaign received 705,706 impressions in November and 853,658 in December. Overall, the campaign was successful at targeting cooks and other makers and introducing them to our shared spaces. An added benefit was highlighting the Maker Directory at www.CRE8como.com in time for holiday shopping and connecting it to our Fall Maker Market held at the Pop-Up Park.
In addition to the projects included in our yearly operating budget, this coming year will have a strong focus on economic development and the new shared commercial kitchen. A portion of our fund balance, in addition to a $250,000 City of Columbia Workforce Development grant, will be dedicated to this catalytic project.
For the full FY2023 Budget and supporting documents, visit our Minutes + Financials page.