(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) -- Community leaders in Southside St. Joseph have a vision of a rejuvenated and thriving business district.
"There are all kinds of opportunities here," said Martha Clark, project manager for the Southside Development Corporation.
That was the thought behind coordinating a series of workshops for potential entrepreneurs to help get new businesses off the ground. Clark brought in Missouri Western's Center for Entrepreneurship to help kick-start the process.
"What we're looking for is passion from the entrepreneur," said Annette Weeks, the center's director, which is housed at MWSU's Craig School of Business. "What do they want to do? How can we help them and put that plan together and move it forward? That benefits the community and the region."
Around 25 current and would-be business owners came to the first of five sessions on Wednesday evening. Together they took tours of some of the properties available. Weeks said that inexpensive and leaseable space is just one selling point Southside business promotors can point to.
There's great possibilities in Southside," Weeks said. "There are available buildings here. They have loyal customers down here."
Clark agreed that there is a loyal base of customers ready to support Southside businesses.
" There's a proud bunch of people down here. They're very caring people. They take care of each other," she said.
Benton High School senior Logan Carpenter is an up and budding entrepreneur who attended the workshop. He already has an online customized shoe design business called Painted Sole. Along with the help of his grandfather, Carpenter would like to take his business to the next step and have a storefront operation.
"It's been my dream since I've started this whole thing. It would be a great experience and a great job to pursue," Carpenter said.
It's small businesses like Painted Sole and others that Southside leaders hope will bring life back to Illinois Avenue and other retail districts in the area.
"We all like to have the food businesses," Clark said. "I'd kind of like to have a mini-brewery down here somewhere. Shopping, there used to be a Harold's department store down here and to have some kind of shopping, something like that."
Monday's session was the first of five in the workshop that is being held each Wednesday evening at Interserv on King Hill Avenue.