East Cesar Chavez, extending from IH-35 to Pleasant Valley Road, is home to a diverse business community including authentic Mexican cuisine and many other restaurants and delicious food trucks, art galleries, piñata shops, hair salons, boutique shops, fitness studios, community and religious services and many more. Businesses old and new have been working with the Soul-y Austin program to identify the opportunities and challenges of their district in hopes of creating a collective vision that will position them to further form an East Cesar Chavez merchants association.
Soul-y Austin became active in the district in September by having one on one conversations with interested businesses and then offering two district open houses that served as informational sessions on the program but also as a great networking opportunity for businesses to meet their neighbors. Businesses were able to address questions regarding their involvement and commitment to the program. Participating businesses include SprATX, Juniper, East 1st Street Grocery, Craftsman, Urban Squared Realty, and Mission Funeral Home.
The Soul-y Austin team values the importance of ensuring all businesses are invited and welcomed to participate but importantly educated on the opportunity. Soul-y Austin placed heavy emphasis on doing door to door outreach, successfully reaching over fifty (50) businesses along the corridor with assistance from our lead outreach team Morningside Research and Consulting.
During the one-on-one conversations, businesses mentioned parking, lighting, and sidewalk connectivity to increase walkability as their greatest opportunities to positively transform the district and increase the economic vitality of the area. Businesses also mentioned the importance of preserving the district’s character and rich history, and the cultural and diverse characteristics of the district, as these characters make East Cesar Chavez great. Businesses met in December with the Soul-y Austin team to collectively catalog the assets and challenges to their district. Among the key themes mentioned businesses found commonalities in their thoughts including issues related to traffic, parking, walkability, business diversity, arts and culture, neighborhood character and safety. Overall the businesses focused on how the quality of life within the district could be improved and retained.
East Cesar Chavez District will spend the next few months banding together to create a unified voice that represents their business district. Through this process, E. Cesar Chavez businesses will receive a set of tools and resources that will assist in the formation of a merchants association through business leadership. Soul-y Austin’s goal is to empower the businesses to have a stake in their district and work together to increase the economic vitality of the area.