Black Girls Connect Uptown?

blackgirlincle University circle UBA

Last week, I attended the Uptown Business Association's Showcase in the Circle and Small Business Awards at Cleveland School of the Arts. Just in case you weren’t aware, the Uptown neighborhood consists of Buckeye-Shaker, East Cleveland, Little Italy, University Circle, and Fairfax neighborhoods.

I found the event on Facebook and decided to go for two reasons.

1. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to network with a new group of people because I’m not familiar with businesses in University Circle.

2. I had driven by the new Cleveland School of the Arts building but had never been inside.

BlackgirlinCLE breakfast

The morning began with breakfast and networking, which gave me a chance to check out the school. I adored the bright hallways and the open cafeteria surrounded by a gallery of student art, the Black Box theater, and photography classrooms. Although the school was out for the summer, a creative energy filled the room.

Panelist included; (l-r) Megan Van Voorhis, Sean Watterson, Andria Hickey, Daniel Gray-Kontar and Fred Bidwell

Panelist included; (l-r) Megan Van Voorhis, Sean Watterson, Andria Hickey, Daniel Gray-Kontar and Fred Bidwell

After breakfast, we moved to the Black Box Theater for the panel discussion. Many Uptown business owners shared their enjoyment about bringing people into the area but were constantly looking for new opportunities to move the arts beyond this rejuvenated east side neighborhood. They spoke about their influences in Hingetown, the Transformer Station and the Gordon Square Arts District.

The event ended with several small business owners in the Uptown District receiving awards.

  • Best Start Up - Fluffy Duck Cafe,
  • Best Multi Generational or Family-Owned Business - Presti’s Bakery,
  •  Best Nonprofit/Local Business Relationship - Black Butterflies LLC and Cleveland UMADAOP and
  • Uptown Business Association Champion - Anne Caputo of J.A.C Business Communications.
Best Nonprofit/Local Business Relationship winners Black Butterflies LLC & Cleveland UMADAOP

Best Nonprofit/Local Business Relationship winners Black Butterflies LLC & Cleveland UMADAOP

While listening to the stories shared during the panel, I realized Uptown was so much more than I thought. There were many other small businesses and places that I had never visited.  

Seriously, have you ever spent the day exploring this neighborhood and its many treasures - the Cleveland Orchestra, museums, restaurants, and other special places? I don’t do it enough, but that’ll change soon.