A great THIRD PLACE: Greensboro Downtown Marketplace Incubator
Why does a memory from more than 60 years ago stick! For me, Dan Curry, it comes down to family and food. I vividly remember pulling my grandmothers grocery cart that was as tall as I was to the city market in Niagara Falls NY. She would load up on what she needed at the food market to fix dinner that evening, warm crusty bread, vegetables, the catch of the day, maybe a fresh pie and off we would go with me acting like I was pulling that cart all by myself.
City markets were the lifeblood of the city – full of aromas, images and people from all parts of the community. Somewhere in time, we lost that connection to community, that place where both sides of the tracks met on level ground. The public markets gave way to homogenized grocery stores and chain restaurants, all serving up food items grown, raised, and packaged from who-knows-where.
Today there is a resurgence taking place in cities across the country. People are moving back to the center city, encouraged by a boom in new living options, supported by arts and cultural attractions, and fed by chefs and food artisans creating locally-sourced and healthier foods served up in a mix of charming new and repurposed spaces.
So what is missing? Why does Greensboro need a downtown marketplace – that great third place to be and be seen. Great third places are where you go outside of your home and work – where you meet up with friends and co-workers – where you refuel your body and spirit.
Triad Startup Lab is a business accelerator, and a effort of Greensboro Partnership funded by the City of Greensboro, is fueling my interest in creation of a Downtown Marketplace. We have begun to reach out to chefs, artisans, emerging businesses, building owners, and all who would enjoy a great place to stop, sit a while, choose to eat from a dozen or more local eateries, or grab a carry-out dinner to save precious home time. With Startup Lab assistance, we will soon have a website and social media presence as we broaden the discussion and look for others in the community who believe that matching up place-making and great food makes sense for downtown Greensboro right now.
Part food incubator, part place-making, the Downtown Marketplace will provide our community with a space dedicated to the nurturing of emerging food businesses and the celebration of our rich ethnic diversity. Imagine not having to leave the building to have choices ranging from Korean BBQ, New Orleans-style Gumbo, Colombian arepas, Chinese dim sum, or a great reuben sandwich or fried shrimp basket.
Next time, we will talk about how we want to support emerging food businesses and create a rotating concept for the marketplace.