Interview with Otis Pitts
QUESTION 22
MADISON DAVIS LACY:

Tell me the story about the man across the street with the shoe store and what's happening with him as for- as related to this shopping center.

OTIS PITTS:

Well, you know, when this shopping center started, I mean, ah, we, to some degree feel we catalyzed in development in this area. First of all, it gave the community itself a sense that something was occurring, you know, that there was some investment being made in the community. But it also encouraged the merchants around this area to start to sort of gearing up because they knew this community, the shopping center would bring literally thousands of people in. We thought it would bring about six thousand. It's bringing closer to seventeen thousand people a week into this community. So, that's something that other merchants can benefit and feed off of. So, one of the guys next door, here, built a small strip shopping center of his own and started a little shoe store in there. I mean he started with a very small operation. He just thought he'd make some, a little extra money. The thing has outgrown even what he thought it would, would, would be. I mean just today he's talking about expanding further and, and fixing mannequins in the window and he's providing employment for people, the whole nine yards. So, there's a kind of economic, ah, revitalization occurring not only in this community but across this country. I mean in Black communities there's an entrepreneurial class that's now emerging, ah, and it's being nurtured I guess in some communities by community development corporations and in some cases even local governments and the federal government, more procurement opportunities, etcetera. So, specific in this area, I mean our approach about this is that with the process on a purely business basis, it, it's not an emotional issue, ah, and revitalizing communities is nothing unique or different for any community. I mean the development process works in Black communities, White communities, etcetera. I mean, ah, again a case in point would be, what happened in Baltimore. I mean, ah, with, with the Rouse project. I mean those kind of catalytic projects, no matter where you initiate them, I mean catalyze an investment momentum and the same is true in the Black community.

MADISON DAVIS LACY:

OK, we can cut here.