LISC DC first became engaged with the Rhode Island Avenue NE corridor a couple of years ago when we met and walked the corridor with Kyle Todd, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Avenue NE Main Street (RIA Main Street).
Originally formed as a group of neighbors looking to have a voice in the development of their neighborhood commercial corridor, the RIA Main Street has grown to be an officially recognized Main Street Program by the District of Columbia, tasked with revitalizing Rhode Island Avenue NE between 3rd Street NE and Eastern Avenue; improving commercial properties and streetscapes; promoting local businesses through special events and festivals; and creating new jobs and attracting new locally-owned businesses.
Soon after our meeting with Kyle, we provided support for the opening of Good Food Markets along the corridor. As a small scale grocery store, Good Food provides healthy food to an area of the District that prior to its opening, was a food desert.
While LISC DC is proud of our investment in Good Food Markets, we knew that in order for the corridor to reach its full potential to serve the diverse needs of its surrounding residents, we needed to work to help build the capacity of RIA Main Street. Currently, RIA Main Street Executive Director Kyle Todd is a one-man band – solely responsible for coordinating and executing all of the moving pieces required to produce, market, and deliver the services provided by RIA Main Street as it works towards positively redeveloping the business district.
In 2015, LISC DC set out to help Kyle in his quest to grow the organization and increase its impact along the corridor by coupling technical assistance and planning support with grant support for operations. With the help of LISC’s National Economic Development Program, LISC DC began working with MetroEdge, a LISC program that provides expert and data-driven guidance and support for local organizations seeking to revitalize a business district, ultimately helping communities take the reins of their economic futures.
Today, LISC DC is continuing to work with RIA Main Street by providing a $25,000 operating grant support via our Section 4 Grant program. This will allow Kyle to have the capacity and time to implement recommendations and bring new businesses to the commercial corridor while helping existing businesses continue to attract customers. This, in turn, will support job creation, business expansion, and the development of a healthy, desirable community that will attract private investment, entrepreneurship, and economic growth in the District of Columbia. LISC National is providing additional funds to RIA Main Street to implement a project from the plan. As part of our small business development work, LISC DC will continue working with RIA Main Street to bring more resources to businesses located on the RIA corridor.