The Creative Enterprise Zone primed for more gains in 2024

By Aeneas Pacheco

The Creative Enterprise Zone has big plans for 2024 and looks to build on its accomplishments of last year, says Angela Casselton, director of the south St. Anthony Park-based economic nonprofit.

More mural projects and further launching a community investment program highlight the CEZ’s major goals for 2024, she said.

The CEZ is an area in the south St. Anthony Park neighborhood that pushes initiatives for advancements in arts, culture and economics. The CEZ is home to shops, restaurants, art studios and more.

“It’s basically recognizing that this highly industrial area is home to many makers and creative entrepreneurs,” Casselton said. “A lot of what we do is attracting and supporting creative people and businesses to be successful here.”

The CEZ’s initiatives include the Chroma Zone Mural and Art Festival, a celebration of the artists that bring their creativity to the area.

One of the CEZ’s major goals for 2024 is to further advance the Taproot Community Investment Cooperative, according to Casselton. Taproot’s goal is to bring shared investments for local real estate into the CEZ area.

Casselton said one of Taproot’s many benefits is it will enable local people to become investors in up-and-coming real estate in the area.

Another anticipated benefit of the co-op is attracting more creative people and businesses to the area, according to the Taproot website.

“You get to say my money’s going local, it’s going to go into real estate,” Casselton said. “This benefits creative people and businesses, it keeps the money in the neighborhood.”

Taproot launched in 2023 but had a bit of a slow start, falling somewhat short of expectations, according to Casselton.

“We own the building that we currently have our office out of here on University Avenue. And so that was a big accomplishment,” Casselton said. “We had hoped to add another building but that didn’t happen.”

Meanwhile, the future of the continuing CEZ mural initiative appears very bright, Casselton said, noting her nonprofit hopes to bring in more artists to create murals in 2024, adding to the 55+ murals already in the area.

The CEZ heavily advocates for diversity and inclusivity in the mural art. About 77% of the CEZ murals were painted by BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) artists, and about 57% were done by women.

Casselton said the process for producing the murals takes just about all year.

“What we do is choose our artists in the spring, start production in the summer, and then celebrate at the conclusion in the fall,” Casselton said. “If business owners have a wall, we pay for artists, equipment and paint. They just need to give us their walls.”

The 2024 Chroma Zone Mural and Art Festival is scheduled for September. 

Aeneas Pacheco is a Bugle intern and a third-year journalism student at the University of Minnesota.

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