Penn donated $100,000 to The Enterprise Center to help rebuild the commercial corridor of 52nd Street, after it endured losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and effects of recent nationwide demonstrations calling for racial justice.
Many small businesses along the corridor, historically known as West Philadelphia’s Main Street, are teetering on the edge of survival. These shops were forced to close in mid-March when all nonessential businesses were ordered to shut down in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the city. Two months later, many of these businesses also suffered from property damage caused by civil unrest in late May.
Assistant Vice President of Community Relations in the Office of Government and Community Affairs and 1974 College graduate Glenn Bryan, who graduated from the School of Social Policy and Practice two years afterwards, was raised in West Philadelphia and went out to help the community clean up after the demonstrations. Bryan told Penn Today that about 80% of the businesses along 52nd Street were hit hard by protests following the police killing of George Floyd — adding that some may not survive.
The Enterprise Center has already distributed $34,000 total among 17 52nd Street businesses, providing each with an unrestricted grant of $2,000 to help them rebuild in the aftermath of the civil unrest.
At the onset of the pandemic in March, Penn also donated $250,000, to award grants to small businesses in University City.
The Enterprise Center’s Community Development Corporation has a unique initiative focused on promoting the 52nd Street Commercial Corridor while protecting its historic identity. The Center was founded in 1988 by David Thornburgh, the former director of the Wharton Small Business Development Center, and Wharton SBDC consultant Larry Bell, with the intent to support minority entrepreneurs in Philadelphia and jumpstart community revitalization efforts.
“It’s an unprecedented situation,” Bryan told Penn Today. “We’re responding, and 52nd Street and The Enterprise Center are Penn’s valued partners. These are small businesses that were affected, not large scale; we’re talking about businesses already impacted by COVID-19.”
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