Three EMBA graduates bring business expertise to the neighborhood where they grew up.
(This article by Caroline Collier ’98 originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of “TCU Magazine.”)
With crowded Trinity Park at her back, architect R.J. Blair ’05 EMBA wandered around Fort Worth’s redeveloped 7th Street area looking to capture a photo. Spotting a new fried chicken restaurant, she circled the building and found her shot.
Blair, who is also a city planner, pasted the photograph next to one of a dilapidated and condemned fast food joint in her Stop Six neighborhood in East Fort Worth. In a presentation for Fort Worth’s city council 10 years ago, Blair illustrated the sharp redevelopment contrast, from similar architectural perspectives. “When they asked me what I wanted, I told them this, I want this,” she said in reference to the streetlights, sidewalks, restaurants and stores along bustling 7th Street.
Her request for city funding to plant trees and increase code patrol presence to enforce neighborhood cleanliness rules was “more than reasonable,” said Donavan Wheatfall, a former Fort Worth City Council member who represented the Stop Six area during Blair’s presentation. “If you want to attract businesses and stimulate economic development, the environment itself has to be conducive.”
As a graduate student in TCU’s EMBA program, Blair learned to create nonprofit organizations. Using those skills, she secured a city grant to help spruce up formerly crime-ridden sections of Stop Six during the first phase of her transformation plan for the oft-overlooked neighborhood. Now working with Ray Taylor ’15 EMBA and Cal Quigley IV ’15 EMBA, Blair is preparing to start phase two of her visionary project, which requires collaborating with private investors.
Read more in “TCU Magazine.”