Business in the Neighborhood

Over the past three years, CovEnterprises and LMDJ has hosted an intensive on social enterprise at Midwinter. Each year, we have gathered pastors and community development practitioners from inside and outside the Covenant to a day+ session focusing on the key issues of enterprise and economic development. We have examined the theological foundations for social enterprise, the impact enterprise projects can make in vulnerable communities and basic business strategies to jumpstart the creative process.

The goal of Business in the Neighborhood has been two fold. First, we’ve aimed to heighten awareness around enterprise and economic development within the ECC. Secondly, we’ve tried to provide some basic tools for getting into the work for seasoned practitioners. These two goals fit well with our stated objectives to COACH and CONNECT.

We are excited about the future of Business in the Neighborhood. Our hope is to break these two goals out into separate events that allow each to take center stage in its own dedicated time/space. So, we will be continuing to provide Business in the Neighborhood learning experiences at Midwinter to ensure that we are able to connect with the broad scope of the ECC; casting vision and deepening awareness about the role of economic development in the work of justice. This space will be an excellent avenue to learn more about social enterprise, see and hear ways that ECC practitioners are employing enterprises with transformative effect, and connect with others in the ECC interested and engaged in the work.

But we are also back in the workshop innovating what will become Business in the Neighborhood 2.0. We are hearing, and realizing, that developing a robust skill set around enterprise and economic development needs more time that we can create in our current mode. This kind of gathering needs not only input but a chance to wrestle with our own contextual work and to workshop with experienced practitioners how to develop economic strategies for community that create a serious degree of potential for development and transformation. We also know that these sessions need to be ‘in the field’. Getting out into communities to see the work in action, talk to leaders in the field and to IMMEDIATELY start applying the concepts to our own projects is the kind of learning experience many of us engaged in the day to day work in economically vulnerable communities need.

We’ve heard this from practitioners in the ECC as well, and so we are continuing to listen, reflect and brainstorm ways that we can give shape to, and create space for, such a gathering. There will be more to come, but in general, in the next 12-18 months we hope to host 3 regional summits on economic development that give rise to collaborative working groups of leaders seriously dedicated to community and economic development strategies in their neighborhoods. If you have interest in participating in these gatherings, or have specific ideas for ways we might tailor the event to be as beneficial as possible, please contact us at coventerprises@covchurch.org.

About Adam Gustine

Adam Gustine leads CovEnterprises for Love Mercy Do Justice and the Evangelical Covenant Church. He is also the founder of Jubilee Ventures; an economic incubator in South Bend, IN. He and his wife, Ann, live in South Bend with their three kids.

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