King County recently voted on its first Participatory Budgeting, where community members cast over 2,600 ballots on projects they want to serve their community. Among the winning projects, is King's Dream Business Consulting's local nonprofit arm, Shop Skyway.
The result of the new community voting process in King County will bring about 45 new projects which will receive funding in 2023. Jawan Harris, the founder of King's Dream Business Consulting, is among the historic project proposal advocates and selected proposal winners for the Skyway Business Revitalization Project, or Shop Skyway.
King's Dream is Proud to Serve Seattle's Largest Minority Neighborhood.
King's Dream vision is to create flourishing micro-economies across the United States, especially in underserved business owner populations. Comparatively, Shop Skyway's mission is to advance the upward mobility and autonomy of Skyway's business core. With Skyway-Westhill as the area with the most minority residents in the South Seattle area, activating Skyway's business core will positively impact Seattle's racial wealth gap while maintaining the area's unique autonomy.
The funding from the grant will be applied toward providing subsided technical assistance directly to the small businesses that need it most and creating a free membership system.
Participatory budgeting is the voice of the community.
The vote was a first of its kind for the King Couty community, as the public could weigh in on how they wanted community funds spent. Over a year ago, the journey began with a proposed budgeting process by King County Executive Dow Constantine. Constantine thought about starting a reimagined budgeting process that would bring positive change to the urban unincorporated areas of King County, including East Federal Way, East Renton, Fairwood, Skyway, and White Center.
In 2021, the King County Council approved Executive Dow Constantine's innovative approach to community investment. Her approach centered on racial equity, giving those who live and work in the county's unincorporated areas the opportunity to vote on how over $11 million is spent in their communities.
Constantine's cutting-edge approach paved the way for participatory budgeting. Participatory budgeting allows communities to discuss, identify, and prioritize public spending. The communities can help decide how to spend money on programs, services, and capital projects. The funding for Shop Skyway comes from King County's general fund in the form of bonds and is financed by marijuana retail sales tax revenue.
"This program shows the way forward for community-led investments to upend historical and racial inequities and continue making King County a place where every person can thrive." - Executive Constantine
Getting King County Residents Involved.
The program was established by King County Local Services and its community partner, the Community Investment Budget Committee (CIBC). The groups collected and analyzed project ideas submitted by local community residents. Through this process, the program identified 40 community volunteers dedicated to serving as Proposal Advocates, including Jawan Harris.
"Skyway is the first place my family lived when we migrated to Washington from Louisiana. Skyway is my home, and it saddens me that its businesses are suffering. If we take care of the existing businesses and encourage entrepreneurship, the businesses can provide the residents with better services, products, jobs, and programs." - Jawan Harris
Not to mention, Shop Skyway also states their efforts will provide a renewed sense of community pride. Skyway community residents commonly feel overlooked by the City of Seattle and Renton because of being located in Unincorporated King County.
The advocates then helped frame the hand-picked ideas into detailed proposals on the voting ballot. Next, the community could vote to decide which groups deserved funding. Over 60 King County residents participated in the process, with each unincorporated area selecting its winners.
Finally, in August of 2022, anyone older than 12 who worked, lived, received an education, or worshipped in the five selected areas could participate in the community vote. Proposal advocates, local services staff, and CIBC members surveyed all five areas to ensure the public was aware of the program.
To check out the complete list of projects receiving funding from the project, visit King County's Website: Forty-five projects selected for initial King County participatory budgeting awards - King County.
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