ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The goal of a new north St. Louis County development in Dellwood-Ferguson is to build trust and equity.
Two of the principals in R&R (Refuge and Restoration) Marketplace use a very powerful word to describe the project: transformation.
“It’s career-development training," Pastor Ken Jenkins, R&R Marketplace board chair, said. "We’re going to have four pathways – geospatial, IT, trades and healthcare. We can get people connected.”
Jenkins and his wife Beverly are behind the $16 million development in a shopping center next to the Dellwood Recreation Center. They plan to renovate vacant buildings into an early childhood center; workforce, innovation and health centers, a new location for Refuge and Restoration Church, and a bank.
Beverly serves as CEO for R&R Marketplace.
“The average business starts with about $100,000 in their coffers to begin their business,” said Beverly, “but most Black businesses start with less than $10,000, sometimes less than $5,000. We want to turn that around and allow businesses to flourish.”
LaTasha Brown is a member of the Southeast Ferguson Community Association.
“This is beyond progress,” said Brown, describing the R&R Marketplace project. “This lot has been vacant since I was a kid.”
Brown advocates for resources in the connected communities of Jennings, Dellwood and Ferguson.
“I believe it’s equity,” she said, “equity all across the board with all three neighborhoods.”
Pastor Jenkins and his wife are hoping to bring stability to the neighborhood and the people who live here.
“Our goal is to come and offer what’s not here,” said Beverly, “what’s not available, what’s not accessible to the community, so that stability grows into transformation.”
“When I say ‘transformation,’ I’m talking about 10 years down the road we want to see that lives have changed," Ken said, "folks have moved from minimum wage to earning above liveable wages, where they have careers and not jobs, where we have kids going to college.”
That renovation is scheduled to begin in January. Other people on the R&R Marketplace leadership team include MiTek CEO Mark Thom, Julius B. Anthony, president of St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, and Lou Brock, Jr. The son of the late Cardinals outfielder is president of Lou Brock Mechanical.