Crossing the Lines: Live6 planners play the long game

Nezaa Bandele has learned a lot since opening a business in Live6. Now she helps local entrepreneurs with sustainable growth in mind.

Blue and yellow mural that reads "Fitzgerald, Detroit"

Neighborhood marker in Fitzgerald, one of the Live6 neighborhoods.

This story is part of WDET’s Crossing the Lines: Live6 series, exploring the neighborhoods around the intersection of Six Mile Road and Livernois Avenue. See more Crossing the Lines coverage »

Nezaa Bandele came to Detroit’s Live6 neighborhoods to open a small business.

“I have a catering and food company that’s focused on wellness and healthy options,” she says. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Live6 Alliance hired her to cater meetings and other events. It wasn’t long before the community development group asked her to do more.

“They asked me to lead a series of community engagements around food,” Bandele says. “We use food as a way to get people comfortable, nourished, and to tell the stories, and to imagine what they wanted to see in this neighborhood.”

All of this led to Bandele joining the Live6 Alliance. She’s now the small business resource manager. She’s also a digital ambassador for Connect 313, which aims to provide affordable internet access throughout the city.

Bandele says her job is to help other small businesses in the Live6 area and increase business density.

“Opening up a business here is challenging because you don’t have a lot of foot traffic,” she says. “You really have to do a lot of marketing.”

More from Crossing the Lines: Live6 Alliance facilitates business growth

Bandele says effective marketing will convince residents of Live6 to support local businesses rather than leaving the neighborhood to buy goods and services.

“It just makes sense to create businesses where you could capture some of those dollars,” she says.

Playing the long game

While much of the Live6 Alliance’s short-term focus is on building business density, Bandele says revitalizing housing stock is critical to the area’s long-term success.

“I would like to see families in this neighborhood,” she says. “There’s a lot of famous Detroiters who grew up [here] or their grandparents lived in this community.”

To accomplish that, Bandele says potential homeowners and business owners need what she calls “patient capital.”

“You don’t want to bring people in and have them build businesses if you don’t have the community support or the density to make that be economically viable,” she says. “You want to provide services and resources for them to be able to last.”

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  • Pat Batcheller
    Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician.