“Build right, not on the backs of small businesses,” is a motto of the University Avenue Business Association (UABA), according to director Linda Winsor. On October 28, UABA and the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) brought small businesses together for a resource workshop offering free services such as business consulting, legal services, marketing assistance.
“We are neither pro or anti Light Rail-we realize it’s coming,” Linda Winsor, the executive director of UABA said. “We just want to make sure small businesses along the avenue get the help needed to survive construction.”
University Avenue business owners came at different times throughout the day to have consultations about concerns or legal questions they had.
Rob Routhieaux, an associate professor at Hamline University and a working member of UABA, gave two short presentations throughout the day.
Routhieaux said about 60 people showed up for the presentation, which he characterized as “a great turn-out.”
“We didn’t have enough chairs, it was standing room only,” said Linda Winsor, the executive director of UABA.
The services provided by UABA are an on-going collaborative effort by concerned business owners as well as professors and students who give their time to help University Avenue businesses the information they need.
UABA’s Business Information Center is made up by university associates and their M.B.A. students from Hamline University School of Business and Macalester College to give private consultations with business owners to help strategize surviving the construction.
Though the start of construction is a year or more off for some businesses, there is a lot of preparation to do. Stories such as Lessons learned from Lower Town in St. Paul prove that you can never start preparing too early.
“It is better to be proactive than reactive,” Routhieaux said. But there are still a lot of questions that we can’t answer because we haven’t been given the information.
Legal services, which are offered by attorneys together with other William Mitchell School of Law professors and students, provide resources tied to light rail related issues such as lease agreements and damages that may be caused by construction.
Larry Peterson, an adjunct professor at William Mitchell whose practice has been on University Avenue for more than 26 years, says about 12 lawyers volunteer or work for a reduced rate for business owners who come to UABA looking for legal advice.
Business owners need to know their rights, Peterson said. UABA provides the services for them to do that for cheaper than if they hired their own attorney.