Gifts to Our Community: Onewest
OneWest is making strides in changing the community in a positive way. Evon Smith stands in front of a building that will soon be renovated.
As we embark on the season of gift giving and receiving, let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the community-wide gifts that benefit residents of Louisville and Southern Indiana. If you haven’t appreciated these gifts as much as you could have, now is the time.
OneWest is a nonprofit organization that grew out of the 2014 Bingham Fellows class of Leadership Louisville and is focused on the revitalization of West Louisville. The first phase will start at the intersection of 18th Street and West Broadway. OneWest’s approach to re-development and growth is multi-pronged, focusing on renovating building structures, bringing commercial and retail establishments to West Louisville, community outreach, and advocacy for the nine neighborhoods that make up the area.
President/CEO Evon Smith says that part of OneWest’s work is to market the area to businesses and help them identify buildings that would serve their needs. Another aspect of its work is to uplift entrepreneurs who are looking for small space to house their newly birthed companies.
Its board consists not only of leaders who live and work throughout Louisville but also members from each of West Louisville’s neighborhoods. Part of OneWest’s advocacy is listening to what residents of West Louisville want in their community, which includes more quality retail establishments, healthy food options, fewer liquor stores, and bottom dollar retail, such as Dollar General stores. Residents of West Louisville spend $475 million every year on retail and services but, unfortunately, a sizable chunk of that leaves the area because of the dearth of retail shops and restaurants.
“We are here to be a connector and to be intentional about uplifting the community based on what the residents have told us is important to them,” Smith says. “We invite everybody in Louisville to participate with us and be a part of that vision.” Like all great endeavors, Smith and her OneWest colleagues know that it isn’t just money that will lead to results. The combination of time, talent, energy, and funds are what will move West Louisville into its prosperous future.