New empowerment center aims to build positive outcomes in Ferguson community

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FERGUSON, Mo. – The new Ferguson Community Empowerment Center is not only a sign of hope, it’s sign of a community in repair three years after the unrest that followed the police shooting death of Michael Brown.

Built on the site where a QuikTrip store burned in August 2014 during protests.

This new 13,500 square-foot facility will serve as an Urban League office focused on job training, placement, mentoring, and so much more.

“Will one building do it alone, no. But between Centene, Starbucks, AT&T, the transformation of the government, and people being more collective in terms of how they think and working together, hopefully we will be better afterwards,” said Michael McMillan, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.

The Salvation Army are co-owners with the Urban League. The Lutheran Hope Center and University of Missouri extension service will have offices inside.

“Building community, not just a building. My hope is this empowerment center will help reshape what people think when they hear the word ‘Ferguson,’” said Lt. Colonel Dan Jennings, Salvation Army.

Several companies donated money to pay for the $4 million center. St. Louis County also provided a million dollars in tax credits. Truly a sign that people care about restoring Ferguson.

“That uprising and tragedy exposed deep seeded problems. Wake up call. But people have responded. Today was a powerful first step for Ferguson,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.

With a new building, there is new hope and an eagerness to help individuals. Singer Mary Wilson of the Supremes was on hand for the grand opening and delighted to see positivity return to the area.

“What the Urban League is doing is bringing back new life and it’s a great city,” Wilson said.

McMillan said things are changing for the better. Starbucks and AT&T opened up shop and now Ferguson has a large amount of African-American representation in a majority black city.

“If you add it all up, going in the right direction but can’t stop. Keep doing everything we need do,” McMillan said.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger congratulated McMillan and the Urban League for the turnaround.

“From a site that was symbolic of the unrest in this community, we now have a building that represents hope,” he said.


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