Happy New Year! As Next Street enters into its thirteenth year, I want to share some of the exciting work that we are looking forward to in 2018.
We look forward to helping our clients innovate small business financing platforms and products – so they can show you the money.
Over the last few years, we have worked across the country within the small business support ecosystem, and have found that access to capital for small businesses is being disrupted by a range of players. We have been lucky enough to work with tip of the spear organizations to develop new strategies to not only accelerate the flow of capital to underserved small businesses, but also to ensure that the capital they are receiving is both affordable and responsible, thus allowing them to grow. In 2018, we’re excited to continue to push the limits on how quickly and effectively we can get responsible capital into the hands of the businesses that need it most.
We look forward to working with local businesses on the ground in cities like Buffalo – even in the dead of winter.
Our work in Buffalo started three years ago, when we conducted a go-to-market plan for then conceptual Beverly Gray Business Exchange Center. We were proud to announce last summer that Next Street was selected to operate the Exchange, which is well on its way to launch this year.
We were also thrilled to announce the launch of Shift. Through this partnership with EWI and Insyte Consulting, we will help grow 250 small and medium-sized manufacturers in Buffalo through technology innovation over the next three years.
We look forward to making meaningful progress towards more equitable development in our communities – so no one is left behind.
We’re looking forward to the continued work of Living Cities’ Integration Initiative. In 2017 we worked with local city teams in Albuquerque, New Orleans, and San Francisco to assess the small business ecosystems. The work aimed to develop a common understanding of the growth dynamics in each city among small businesses, with particular focus on business owners of color and low-income business owners, and to identify the potential interventions that could help those businesses succeed. We’re excited to see how local teams implement recommendations in 2018.
Our team also worked with a group of local organizations and community leaders on Chicago’s South Side focused on ensuring that the future Obama Presidential Center truly benefits the residents of the communities surrounding it. We worked with this group of stakeholders to understand neighborhood-level planning efforts to-date, evaluate the local landscape, and coordinate community engagement efforts as they moved to stand up a new organization. It was recently announced that this entity elected a new Board of Directors, and we look forward to seeing its progress in 2018.
We look forward to launching new impact investment funds and programs – because actions speak louder than words.
In 2017, we provided on-the-ground support to Benefit Chicago, helping potential awardees navigate the new initiative. We also served as an adviser to the FINNovation Lab / Impact Hub Collaborative in Minneapolis that, when complete, will be a world-class hub for social entrepreneurship in the Twin Cities. In 2018, we will continue to serve as a thought partner to support the development of programs and services for social businesses, with the goal of building the strategic and operational infrastructure necessary for an upcoming launch this spring.
As you can tell, 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year. And we couldn’t do it without all of you, our clients and partners. The change we are all working to see in the world is more important now than ever so please let us know how we can help you and collaborate together to drive results and impact in our communities.
Marina Linhart, CEO