CLEVELAND — Cleveland's west side Clark-Fulton neighborhood is home to largest density of Hispanics in Ohio. Millions of federal dollars are going into the neighborhood for housing, but right now, plenty of growth is happening with grassroots efforts.
“I grew up in the Clark-Futon neighborhood and I’m very proud of that,” said Jenice Contreas, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development.
Contreas is feeding the community its culture, hoping it will attract the rest of the region to the area. Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood is wedged between the West Side Market and the zoo. Contreras said millions of Northeast Ohioans drive through every year. She wants to cash in on all the traffic.
“It is important, because people are connected to place and space, specifically when we’re talking about neighborhood,” said Contreas. "Where can people congregate, where can you celebrate, where can you have this cultural hub?"
The gathering space Contreas helped prepare is a business incubator. The $14 million plan will break ground this summer. It will house startups and micro-businesses.
"We're changing the narrative of the neighborhood, through development, through investment, through community engagement,” said Contreas.
Contreas said some homes will be demolished, and her plans will sprout from the two acres of land.
"Every day, somebody's opening a business in our office,” said Contreas.
Northeast Ohio’s Hispanic Center for Economic Development has outgrown its old spot. They have already served over 400 entrepreneurs. Soon, Contreas will also work out of the 52,000 square foot building.
Right now, she said they are still playing with the name.
"Our mission is to help people grow in business development,” said Contreas.