MINNEAPOLIS - Layoffs can be painful. But for one Minneapolis man, losing his job was a chance for reinvention.
Christopher Webley said permission to pursue his passion started March 11, 2015 --- the day he was laid off from Target Headquarters. Instead of leaving the city, he took more than $100,000 of his own money and purchased a store front on North Lowry.
He calls it the communal marketplace, New Rules. The 4,000-square-foot space offers retail, shared work spaces and showcases local artists photography. It is located on 2015 North Lowry.
“People have approached the issues that plagued our community with the same solution. New rules was an intentional effort to disrupt the narrative that exists in north Minneapolis,” Webley said. “I chose to stay here because the community needed this. It needed a resource in the community to where they could monetize efforts.”
Webley says he hopes to give entrepreneurs on the north side a platform to thrive.
Tabota Seyon is one of several entrepreneurs who plans to share the space. Her vision is to open a café inside of the space on North Lowry and partner with groups who would like to use the facility for event.
The city of Minneapolis pitched it too, matching Webley’s investment through the Façade Improvement Matching Grant Program. Casey Dzieweczynski, the city’s Business Development Senior Project Coordinator, said since 2008 the city has awarded about 600 of these grants to various store fronts, investing about $1.5 million.
“Chris’ work with new rules is extraordinary and this is what we want to see,” he said. “This is why the city is here to make these type of investments that can attract young creative professionals to our city.”
The program is run by the Community Planning and Economic Development Department. Each year, the city awards these grants and is looking for future applicants.