Planting the S.E.E.D. to bring business back Richmond’s East End

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – Inside what will soon be Proper Pies in Church Hill, Nikki Price is looking forward to the day when her pie racks won’t hold just electrical outlets.  She says they plan to open their doors in the coming months.

“I think there’s tons of room for growth in the neighborhood.  I think the more the merrier and I think there are some really exciting things happening,” says Price.

Her upstart is one of a handful of businesses in Richmond’s East End that received a portion of $50,000 in grant money from the S.E.E.D. program last year.

S.E.E.D. stands for Supporting East End Entrepreneur Development.  Nonprofit organization Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corporation have teamed up with Bon Secours to provide small businesses in the East End grant money to spark new ventures there.

“Incentivizing small business development is sort of a needed piece that the S.E.E.D. program seeks to address,” says Candice Streett, Executive Director of Virginia L.I.S.C.

With a growing residential population in the East End, S.E.E.D. program officials say it is small businesses that provide needed services that will drive the business climate here.

“You’ve got the density in Church Hill, and you’ve got a really attractive community, a real vibrant community,” says Streett.

But Umar Alamin, owner of Church Hill Bargain and Thrift on 25th St., isn’t so sure.

He says it has been a challenge to consistently bring in customers.  The growth of businesses in areas like Church Hill is due to a customer base with more cash to spend, but the farther East you head that tends to change, according to Alamin.

“On this end, people are less fortunate, but I think in time things are going to get better.  I’m hoping so anyway,” says Alamin.

“I think the city and the counties have areas that are a little bit more challenging for business,” says Streett.  “We should find a way to help businesses succeed in areas where they can’t.”

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