WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Real estate growth in South Florida also includes the flex office space sector which is booming.
This coincides with a report from Commercial Real Estate Services (CRES) which finds 86% of companies plan to use flex space as a “strong alternative” to traditional leases.
And for over 100 Black business owners and non-profit CEO’s in Palm Beach County — it goes beyond walls.
Flex space on Blessed Boulevard is a village rebuilding Black wealth.
Cakes Etcetera co-owner Paula Brothers isn’t talking recipe’s at this hour. Brothers has paperwork to fax out and contracts to add up.
”I would like 10 more contracts by January 2022,” Brothers said.
Meanwhile in the next suite there’s a photographer who's building her brand online. And further down the hall is an attorney talking law and career aspirations with a group of soon-to-be taxpayers.
”It’s great to dream. But at some point in time you’re going to realize that you’re better at something than you are at another thing,” said Michael Pike, Pike & Lustig Law Firm managing partner. “That is the thing that you need to latch onto.”
Pike knows the importance of early intervention and its a personal investment.
”The saying is — ‘success is rented. And the reason it’s rented is because it needs to be repeated,’” Pike said.
And it’s the same type of intervention Grassroots Consulting, Inc. CEO and Inspiration Station co-owner Shandra Stringing provides at Inspiration Station and its subsidiary Blessed Boulevard.
”It’s a holistic business service center from beginning to end,” said Stringer. “Marketing to website building, graphic design, business credits to minority certifications. From every spectrum of a business operation they’ve come through these doors.”
”We have to be our own communities stimulus package,” added Salvatore Cardella, South Florida Role Models Foundation president and CEO. “Not only financially be we have to be our communities stimulus package when it comes down to growing our young men and young women. Hashtag the village.”
Stringer who has decades of experience in consulting both in the for-profit and non-profit sectors says she’s doing her part to restore Black wealth.
”They were doing extra charges on business loans where they were not affordable so they could not borrow money to utilize their business to grow,” Stringer said. “It’s just the truth.”
Stringer is referring to policies and practices that economic scholars have done a lot of research looking at.
A Brookings report shows just how large the gap is.
“Black codes” during the Jim Crow era between 1880 to the 1960’s limited opportunities for Black advancement in the south and Black Wall Streets were burned or chased out.
A journal form the Review of Black Political Economy shows by the 1960’s Blacks were given 3.6% of government bonds, farm and business equity.
”And the gap just kept widening and widening and widening,” Stringer said.
The numbers show it’s widened, but attitudes in some Black communities have also spread.
”Our biggest hurdle is collaboration,” she said.
And Stringer says that’s part of the reason some Black businesses fail: Lack of social capital.
“It is stressful. It is unfair — a lot of things happen that we cannot control. So when we make it we’re afraid to share with somebody else because it took so long for us to get there,” Stringer said.
Blessed Boulevard has also launch the mobile enterprise of Foster’s BBQ owner Sherwin Foster.
”This is not capitalistic, this is communal,” Foster said.
You’ll find his food truck and a line of customers on Blessed Boulevard Thursday through Sunday. He’s also crossing state lines.
”It has grown tremendously now we’re dong online ordering,” Foster said. “We just launched our BBQ sauce so we’re shipping that all the way to Atlanta, Georgia all the way to Miami so it’s been a blessing.”
”She’s stood beside me this entire journey — she told me what to do and how to do it and I did it,” added Brothers.
And no milestone goes unrecognized in this village in addition to a weekly market place that looks like a family reunion there's also community involvement and recognition. Rapper, talk show host and philanthropist Kitty Lundan received the trail blazer award for her contributions locally and internationally.
”Anyone can own a business but we don’t know how to run a business until we properly go through the right channels and Blessed Boulevard gives you that knowledge,” Lundan said.
”And to make it successful and to own that success you’ve got to repeat the next day. You’ve got to repeat tomorrow,” Pike added.
Stringer says she’s going to “die empty”, saying she refuses to take her knack for consulting to the grave and she’s committed to making up for lost time.
To learn more about the village within Blessed Boulevard Business Marketplace and Inspiration Station visit https://theinspirationstationllc.com/.