EAST ALDINE – Neighborhood Centers Inc. continued their meetings with the community, in the form of a workshop focused on the subject of “Visioning” the start-up of small businesses in the East Aldine area.
The meeting was held at the offices of the East Aldine District last Thursday lunch hour, and was attended by about 40 persons from the community and partners of NCI.
The purpose of these workshops is to hear the needs of residents in various fields, and to tailor a solution for NCI’s new facility that will respond most closely with the needs of the people in the neighborhood. This particular workshop focused on new start-up businesses, but others will focus on retail shopping, education, healthcare, and more, according to Jose Rivera of NCI. On the poster board above, the team at the table has listed benefits of starting a business in East Aldine: 1. Many consumers 2. In the middle of 5 major highways 3. Close to Airport 4. Good school district – Aldine ISD 5. Live in an Improvement District EAMD 6. Many businesses already located here, such as banks, grocery stores, churches, schools, health centers, the feeling was “We’ve Got It All.” 7. Strong Community Activists. In a question session, however, they also answered what’s missing: 1. Facilities for kids 2. Public Swimming Pool 3. Free Public Recreation Center 4. Diversity in Restaurants.
The meeting was conducted bilingually, by NCI staff Jose Rivera and Carlos Paz. Carlos emphasized that the intent of these Visioning sessions was to have the spirit of Appreciative Inquiry. AI was a technique that NCI used, to get interview answers by using the Power of Positive Questions.
Carlos mentioned that NCI would partner with other agencies in developing their programs, including East Aldine and Lone Star College, who were present at the meeting. Dr. Melissa Gonzalez of Lone Star College North said that they planned on holding classes in a new building in East Aldine by Spring 2016.
To illustrate the Entrepreneural spirit that NCI expects to foster, they showed a video of a local man, Isaac Garza, who had started a personal training business with their help and encouragement.
NCI plans to be a resource for new businesses, but also a conduit to others who can help, Jose Rivera said.
The meeting was broken into about seven tables of participants, and a questionnaire form was filled out by everyone at the table. Using a team concept, table occupants learned about the others needs and interests, and then were able to summarize for the whole group, and suggest resources to help with their projects.
Rivera said that this was only one of many “Visioning” workshops that would be held in the next few months, and other subjects would be seniors, community center facilities, healthcare, education, and other topics of interest to residents of the area.
In their Visioning sessions, NCI interviews various members of the community to get their perspective on life in their neighborhood. So far, they have conducted about 100 interviews, said Rivera. The information is recorded on paper forms, and also on video and will be incorporated into a unique plan that NCI will propose in their new building for East Aldine.
One key question that NCI always asks is “What kind of Future do you want to see in Aldine?” The answers are not always the same, depending upon who they are talking to, Rivera said. The new NCI building will try to be flexible and incorporate resources to answer many of these desires. One technique they intend to use is a large multipurpose workshop room, where start-up businesses can try different physical set-ups, and learn what works from their own efforts and the interaction with others in the same space who are also ‘start-ups.’ It is anticipated that some of these new businesses will then be funded by NCI partners, and may even have a space in the front of the building for a semi-permanent location for their businesses.
Rivera said that the main thing is for new Entrepreneurs to maintain a positive attitude about what they can accomplish, not what is holding them back from getting started.