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Micro-Entrepreneurship brings Urban Revitalization

Milwaukie Food Carts

Choosing the right projects to catalyze downtown revitalization can vary greatly depending on the community size, location, and assets. Aside from detailed research and/or economic analysis (which should always be a part of any strategic planning effort for a community), there are some key economic development features that can focus downtown revitalization to begin to ignite a spark and foster catalytic change. These features include capitalizing on an existing community asset (or liability), community involvement, political support, economic incentive, and a lot of perseverance.

While this recipe can be further expanded based on community need and/or desire, Milwaukie Station Food Cart Pod in Milwaukie, Oregon offers one example of a successful catalyst project. Food carts have become a staple in the fabric of urban cities and they are expanding into more suburban areas. Food carts offer a unique and flexible opportunity for micro-entrepreneurs. With lower start-up costs, owners can experiment with family recipes, incubate business ideas, or just provide for themselves and their families. As an economic development tool, a food cart pod can activate an area and bring potential customers to neighboring businesses. Although the permitting and implementation process takes time and patience, the finished product for a site like Milwaukie Station has catalyzed the downtown in a little as one month as a result of the tenacity and interest of the community that came from one underutilized, city-owned site.