Minneapolis council members visit Black-owned businesses, gain feedback on city efforts

Three people talk inside a south Minneapolis business
Minneapolis Council Members Jamal Osman and Elliot Payne meet with Melissa Taylor, owner of The Beauty Lounge in south Minneapolis on Monday.
Sarah Thamer | MPR News

During a “Black Business Van Tour” Monday morning, Minneapolis city council members LaTrisha Vetaw, Andrea Jenkins, Elliot Payne and Jamal Osman made stops at three Black-owned businesses in the city. The council members said they wanted to hear from business owners about their future goals and gain feedback regarding city programs.

The first stop was at The Get Down Coffee Company in North Minneapolis – the once barbershop now operates as both – serving up coffee on one side and fresh cuts on the other. Founder and owner Houston White said Black-owned businesses have faced years of discrimination.

Six people pose for a photo outside a business
Minneapolis City Council members and Mayor Jacob Frey pose with Houston White, owner of The Get Down Coffee Company in north Minneapolis on Monday.
Sarah Thamer | MPR News

“A big part now is trying to figure out how to translate being bankable, translate business model developments, translate team creation for a small mom and pop that’s just trying to pay their bills,” White said.

The second stop on the tour was at The Beauty Lounge in South Minneapolis. Owner Melissa Taylor said she hopes to see more support for businesses like hers that have existed for years and are looking for ways to continue growing – a sentiment shared by the other business owners during Monday’s tour.

Three people talk inside a south Minneapolis business
Minneapolis Council Members Jamal Osman and Elliot Payne meet with Melissa Taylor, owner of The Beauty Lounge in south Minneapolis on Monday.
Sarah Thamer | MPR News

“I feel like a lot of times we have a lot of support but don’t know what to do when we get to the next level and really how to scale our businesses, and I would love to see that come out of this (tour),” Taylor said.

Monday’s final stop was at Noor Development, a for-profit real estate development and construction company based in the Twin Cities. The development has several projects in the pipeline including affordable housing and a mosque located at 2219 Oakland Ave. in Minneapolis.

People chat in a parking lot
Minneapolis City Council members chat with Nawal Noor, owner of Noor Development in Uptown Minneapolis on Monday.
Sarah Thamer | MPR News

“My goal is to have people be aware that our business exists and have people be aware that they can work with us as a customer or as a partner, but the other part is to really highlight the projects that we’ve done, to showcase that it is possible for community-based businesses to be able to be successful in the city of Minneapolis,” said Nawal Noor, owner of Noor Development.

Council member Vetaw said the tour was a great opportunity to see what’s going on around the city and said she looks forward to seeing what else the city can do to continue helping Black businesses grow and succeed.

Mayor Jacob Frey also made a stop at The Get Down Coffee Company Monday.

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