Better together: Creating impact and equity through partnerships - Generocity Philly

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Feb. 8, 2021 8:43 am

Better together: Creating impact and equity through partnerships

For the last decade, says guest columnist Gail Leibowitz, she has worked to bring together a business paradigm that will help create a true triple bottom line.

Take what already exists and bring it to the next level, advises guest columnist Gail Leibowitz.

(Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash)

This guest post was written by Gail Leibowitz, founder and CEO of BrickzCity. It was originally published in ImpactPHL Perspectives.
Our world has forever changed. The pandemic has highlighted the fractures in our foundation on so many levels: economic, racial, gender, or political. However, this has been going on for years, and we are seeing the results in real-time. The need for innovative solutions to economic sustainability is at a crucial juncture.

Businesses that have been around for decades are gone. How we do business has changed overnight. The infrastructure that has been a mainstay is irrevocably broken. Our economy is hanging on by a thread along with its people. It is time for real and practical solutions to address society’s needs and bring us into the future in a more equitable and sustainable way.

For the last decade, I have explored ways to develop an innovative approach to creating a business paradigm that will help create a true triple bottom line. We rely on the government and others to fix the problem instead of joining those who are rolling up their sleeves as individuals and bringing everyone to the table to tackle these issues. This in no way negates what governments, philanthropists, nonprofits, and small business owners are already doing; this is to take what already exists and bring it to the next level to utilize and amplify that foundation to maximize the impact.

Understanding the challenges is the first step, but how to achieve the goal, contemplate the drivers and economics surrounding it was an evolution over time. The result is the upcoming development of the BrickzCity creative campuses in rising urban neighborhoods. The vision is to be a catalyst to help change communities by providing access, exposure, opportunity, and high-density clusters of culturally relevant jobs; with a focus on unemployed, under-employed, and hard to employ individuals.

(Courtesy ImpactPHL Perspectives)

We will create an equitable and sustainable business model to help alleviate poverty through our innovation studios and business while also pursuing maximum profits through vertical integration of both real estate and corporate investments. We will utilize media, entertainment, esports, the creative economy, hospitality, and real estate to achieve our goals. Storytelling, content creation, esports, and all the other related disciplines have become central to business and pleasure. The popularity of esports, and the demand for TV and Film production, has grown exponentially in the last decade and are two of the largest growing sectors globally and show no signs of slowing. The arts and sports have been with us forever and have endured throughout history. It is a solid foundation from which to rebuild.

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The campus will utilize all the creative disciplines to establish an ecosystem within a local community for a global platform. We will be a place for people to come to create, work, and foster a collaborative environment in TV/Film, music, art, fashion, gaming, tech, and entrepreneurship, along with a way to monetize their skills. Every TV/Film and video game production needs music, set design, art, wardrobe, coding, etc. We will utilize these goods and services for our productions.

The campus will utilize all the creative disciplines to establish an ecosystem within a local community for a global platform.

For those who are not in the creative community, we wanted to ensure there will be many different opportunities to be a part of the campus. Whether it be an entrepreneur starting a business to service the campus or get on a career path in marketing, accounting, facilities, hospitality, and the like, it is all for the taking. The building itself will remain flexible to allow for growth and enable us to pivot to accommodate rapidly changing landscapes. The way we will be able to accomplish all of this is through partnerships.

On a macro level bringing public, private, corporate, local stakeholders, and the philanthropic community together to deploy their unique expertise and capabilities will effectuate real change. So many of these verticals are currently siloed, which have people working harder but not necessarily smarter. Instead, if we have everyone come to the table together rather than try to tackle all these challenges on their own, we can pool our talent and resources to make things happen. On a more micro level, the campus works by creating internal partnerships within the facility to provide goods and services to each other. We will partner with workforce development groups, non-profits, and educational institutions to ensure we have the expertise and resources to invest in our BrickzCity community. This is a win all around.

One of the primary goals in developing the plan is to create the most robust opportunities and the deepest local impact. We will eliminate as many of the roadblocks people face to advance themselves, such as affordable quality daycare, transportation, soft skills development, financial literacy, and mentorship. We will also offer young people in the community the opportunity for internships and mentorship.

The overall mission is to ensure there is something for everyone.

The overall mission is to ensure there is something for everyone. The campus will be a community of people from all walks of life, working together, exchanging thoughts and ideas to create a better understanding of each other and the outcomes they came to achieve. This is a project of considerable scale and unlimited possibilities. It is also meant to serve as a blueprint for other industries to see how they can invest in people while meeting their financial goals within a sustainable business model. You do not have to sacrifice profitability to achieve social responsibility.

I searched for a home for this first campus and found it at the Ink Factory in North Philadelphia. Philadelphia is truly the perfect place to launch. It is a city rich in culture, which is woven throughout its history. It is also the birthplace of the United States of America. Our hope is to launch the 2.0 version, which will be a more inclusive and equitable United States, coming full circle in the city of brotherly love. I am looking forward to the time I can sit down in person with all the local stakeholders to present the plan, get their feedback and find a way forward to ensure this will bring the maximum impact for all. The goal is to create a strong financial foundation for the BrickzCity community. This is a very important component of the plan. As with anything, even with the best of intentions, there is the potential downside to neighborhood reinvestment of people being priced out of the area. We want to combat this at the outset and ensure that the people in the community are part of the redevelopment. As neighborhoods see that reinvestment; people will be able to afford to stay in the community they have been part of for years and benefit from the upside of that renewal. We can then begin to close the wealth gap and level the playing field in every way.

In creating an environment of real inclusion, where everyone has a seat at the table, you begin to create equity across the board. Access, exposure, and opportunity separates people and creates the chasm that we need to close. By lifting others, we elevate society and create an overall better environment for everyone. Despite the fear that some people may have, there is nothing being taken away from anyone but will add to the quality of life. No one truly achieves anything by themselves. Everyone has had some help along the way. If we want to create a more sustainable and equitable world, it starts by marshaling our resources and working in concert with one another. We are better together.

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