Prehistoric Bones Quaked

Markeshia Ricks PhotoThe city’s small business community quaked some prehistoric bones and raised money for the city’s soon-to-open safe space for young people.

With Ricky Alan Draughn and The Slammin Band cranking Donnie Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” small business owners, city officials and neighbors packed the dinosaur-guarded Peabody Museum of Natural History for the annual small business networking party.

This year’s event, held this past Friday, was a party with a purpose. Jackie James, director of the city’s Small Business Services Center, encouraged attendees to purchase raffle tickets to help buy a television for The Escape, the city’s new teen homeless shelter and drop-in activity center in the Dixwell neighborhood at 654 Orchard St. The center is expected to open in March.

The request brought a smile to the face of city Youth Services Director Jason Bartlett, who has been instrumental in the development of the center.

The party caps off a big year for James and the city’s Small Business Services Center. The city cut the ribbon on its Small Business Academy and incubator space in the Dixwell Plaza earlier this year and familiar faces from the neighborhood were in the house including…

Dixwell top cop, Lt. Sam Brown, Stetson Branch library assistant Rhonda Brown ...

... and Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison.

Mayor Toni Harp encouraged partygoers to also do a good portion of their holiday shopping with local small businesses. “Tis the season for giving and sharing, and that’s great,” Harp said. “But for small businesses, ‘tis the season to make money.”

The Small Business Academy graduated 35 small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs from its first 13-week course on tasks ranging from writing a business plan to obtaining capital.

A few of those small businesses were indeed trying to do what the mayor said and make money during the party including business academy grads such as ...

... jewelry designer, Melba Crowley of Designs by Melba ...

... Catherine Cazes-Wiley, owner of Tinaliah Designs, a custom hats and headpieces for brides and theatre made by homeless artisans ...

... and Alfreda Warner, the owner of V’s Accessories, which provides personal shopping services and accessories.

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