Pride & Purpose: Richmond Main Street

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The city of Richmond knows itself. We’ve seen it all before — great booms, big busts, the ebb and flow of a diverse community — and learned from our experiences. The only way forward these days is to move with intention in this ever-shrinking world. At East Brother Beer, we take pride in our great city and its storied history and go forward with purpose towards a bright future.

It’s Richmond’s people that steer this ship. An intrepid group of community-builders who are dead-set on a future for Richmond as rich as its past. With Pride and Purpose they build our community and with Pride and Purpose we tell their stories.

PRIDE & PURPOSE: RICHMOND MAIN STREET

The change of a city is inevitable, and without a strong, loving hand to guide these transitions, a place’s history and citizens can be displaced. That’s why organizations like Richmond Main Street are so important — they look to our past and the people that have made Richmond’s history rich and work to keep our community intact as they shape the future of our city.

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The people guiding Richmond Main Street, or RMS, are Amanda Elliott and Alicia Gallo, both drawn to Richmond because of its storied past and bright future. Simply put, their mission is to revitalize Richmond’s historic downtown commercial corridor. Working with a variety of stakeholders, from residents to visitors to business owners, these women work towards a goal that at times sounds daunting but is made easier by the people they work with. Amanda tells us, “One of Richmond’s strengths is the folks that live here, they’re very committed to our city and that commitment from others keeps us doing the work we’re doing.”

Through their grit and the help of the community, RMS has developed a variety of programs to engage the community while keeping their message loud and clear. Art in Windows keeps vacant downtown storefronts full of local art, featuring Richmond locals like Malik Seneferu or Stephen Bruce. Part of the larger Celebrate Downtown summer series, Chill with a Cop is a chance for community members to engage with local police officers and enjoy a scoop or two of ice cream. The Celebrate Downtown series rolls on throughout the summer with programs promoting health and wellness and bringing the community together around music and food. Music on the Main, a two-part series during Celebrate Downtown and RMS’s longest running community engagement program, brings folks together to feed their hearts and stomachs with some of Richmond’s best. The grand finale however is the Spirit & Soul Festival which shuts down Main Street and features bands on two stages alongside Richmond’s best producers of art, food, beverage, and more.

Besides knowing how to throw a party, Alicia and Amanda are focused on building up the folks who look at Richmond as a place to start their business. They already offer business development classes that have greatly benefited downtown business owners like Ghaliyah Roberts-Palmer, owner of Gratitude gift shop. “One class at Richmond Main Street on business planning, changed the trajectory of my career and Gratitude evolved.”, says Roberts-Palmer, “RMS is a true catalyst for businesses in downtown Richmond providing a variety of opportunities to establish relationships with the surrounding community and businesses.”. Now a recently opened Business Hub that includes a food hall, co-working space, and resources for entrepreneurs will further support the entrepreneurs looking to open up shop in downtown Richmond. Alicia sees this as a big positive for a couple reasons, “The Business Hub will have a profoundly positive impact on our business community and budding entrepreneurs. Also, the addition of a food hall will have an immense impact on our younger community, since before there haven’t seemed to be many places for people of all ages to gather.”

The food hall presents an especially interesting opportunity to those looking to eventually open their own brick and mortar spot in Richmond. Alongside Roux and Red Bay Coffee there will be an incubator space for local food entrepreneurs to not only provide their food to the community, but also learn the ins and outs of running a restaurant. The featured entrepreneurs will have further opportunity and resources to eventually be included in a new row of restaurants coming in the 12th & Macdonald development.

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It is no secret that Richmond’s people work with care and conviction in all that they do, truly embodying Pride & Purpose. Alicia and Amanda see that through their interactions daily with their board and community members. Alicia sees a visual representation of Pride & Purpose every summer throughout the Celebrate Downtown series, “It looks like the expression of joy on people’s faces when they come to an event like Music on the Main and experience all that Richmond has to offer.” For Amanda, a resident of 30 years, she says Pride & Purpose is a motto and a mission, “There’s real pride in saying we’re our own unique city and community and we want to lift that up in a positive way. I understand there’s been a stigma in the past but our purpose-driven mission is to show that we care about this community and Richmond.”

As Richmond’s Downtown moves towards this inevitable growth, Richmond Main Street deftly guides its community towards a new dawn. But no matter how big Richmond becomes, there’s still an intentional focus on communicating how the downtown area will change to those that have already built a community and culture here. RMS views 2019 as a year of transition, from a period of planning to a period of implementation and development, and is striving to make sure that these impending developments fit the vision of, and support, the community as a whole.

With Pride and Purpose,

East Brother Beer Company

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