Marsh: City must step up support for East Greensboro businessesBy Ivan Saul Cutler, Carolina Peacemaker / February 17, 2021
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East Greensboro community advocates, business leaders and entrepreneurs initiated a series of higher-level conversations with city leaders to devote greater attention and resources to a growing area of thriving Black enterprise.
With several community advocates, artist and business owner Phillip Marsh met with City Manager David Parrish and Police Chief Brian James for “a private informal yet candid discussion” about the need for providing greater city resources in the changing area of East Washington Street beyond the J. Douglas Galyon Transportation Depot. Marsh characterized the corridor as one of the key gateways to East Greensboro.
“Hey, City of Greensboro officials, pay greater attention to the growing Black business community over here in an area that has great investment potential and tax revenue base, yet has been neglected for decades,” said Marsh, whose public murals have captured positive attention. “We escalated the discussion about our needs because we have been disappointed with lower-level city department managers and their staffs who have not been as responsive as we want.”
Meeting at AWOL Fitness, Marsh said Parrish and James enthusiastically listened as he along with consultant Jasmine Beard and attorney Omar Jones outlined how business investment in the area requires more city attention to public safety, housing, transportation, landscaping and public works.
“Ignored for years, this area is an investment opportunity zone that can attract business, and creates jobs and tax revenues for city coffers,” Marsh said, characterizing his discussion with the city leaders. “For this area to thrive, the city needs to join creative Black business professionals in creative ways to attract and sustain investment so the area can thrive for the betterment of the entire city and Black business community that wants to grow here.”
Even as business opportunity grows, Marsh, who has business interests in the area, said he is aware of the necessity of coexistence with a diversity of neighbors and residents.
He said the meeting concluded with the mutual promise to convene again in the next couple of weeks with other city-civic leaders, neighbors and community advocates to keep the channels of communication open.
“As the area moves through transition, we all know different people have different needs, with the objective of overcoming decades of race-based disparity, moving toward a common goal of accomplishment for all involved,” Marsh said.
City governance is aware of Marsh’s concerns. District 2 Councilmember Goldie Wells said she has met and will continue to meet with Marsh and business leaders, acknowledging the area’s complex challenges and possibilities affecting East Greensboro.
“Believe me, I hear it all the time,” she said, explaining her focus is to minimize the disparities as much as possible. “I am committed to helping find ways to increase incomes and opportunities in this district.