Executive Director, Springfield Creative City Collective: Age 29
“When preparedness meets opportunity, amazing things can happen.”
That’s how Tiffany Allecia described the events that led to the Springfield Creative City Collective.
To address chronic poverty in the Black and Brown community, Allecia and five others who shared her concerns determined that promoting a cultural and creative economy would be an effective way to help people now and build toward long-term success.
As one colleague put it, Allecia is an “amazing grant writer,” who applied for and won a $530,000 MassDevelopment grant to establish the collective last July. While that was an important start, Allecia recognized that launching a creative economy in Springfield required access to resources and key stakeholders.
“Through my work with two arts and culture organizations, I saw millions of dollars pour in to large, predominantly white, established businesses that didn’t reflect our community,” she said. “The small businesses in my community didn’t know how to get access to these resources.”
Allecia sees her role, and that of the collective, as a connector to support the development and growth of minority-owned businesses in Springfield. Early successes include a partnership with Berkshire Bank on a financial-literacy academy. The six-week course covered personal finances as well as small-business management.
“We’re working to connect mainstream organizations with our community members who have been overlooked for years,” she said. “The idea is to raise the game of Black and Brown businesses so they can succeed and grow.”
Coming soon are a creative entrepreneurship conference and a hiring fair.
“I believe there are plenty of resources out there, but we often operate in silos,” Allecia said. “The different individuals who could benefit from collaborating aren’t in the same room together. It’s my goal to bring them together.”
Part of that goal involves what she calls a “reimagining” of how resources are allocated in the community by first investing in what currently exists.
“It’s like a grandparent saying, ‘take care of what you have before you can get some more,’” she explained. “That’s where we are in the city right now, and it’s a beautiful and dynamic place.”
A lover of knowledge, Allecia stays grounded with the Socrates quote: “I know that I know nothing.”
“That phrase inspires me because it helps me remain humble,” she said. “I’ve learned a great deal, but I refuse to stop growing, and I refuse to stop learning.”