If you receive the print edition of The Baltimore Sunday Sun, you’ll find an outdated number in my column: Lyneir Richardson and Chicago TREND have raised $274,500 from 108 investors. I filed my column on Friday when TREND had raised $239,500 from 101 local investors. Because of The Sun’s deadlines for print, I could not update the amount raised through TREND’s crowdfunding page. But there you have it: Another seven investors have stepped up with an average of $5,000 each since I filed the column. That’s a testament to the allure of the offer — Richardson, a real estate investor, and his social enterprise, TREND, have offered, at $1,000 minimum, part ownership of Wallbrook Junction Shopping Center. As of Friday, Richardson said, most of the money had come from Baltimoreans. He sees it as a unique way of potentially expanding Black ownership of local businesses.
Richardson’s Chicago-based organization started a few years ago with grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Chicago Community Trust. (“We’re not a nonprofit, but we’re not a profit maximizer, either,” he says.) He calls his big idea an effort to achieve “inclusive ownership.” It’s part of the trend toward “impact investment” and “social entrepreneurship.” Major foundations and government programs have been helping to expand access to capital, particularly in neighborhoods that have seen most of the disinvestment in Baltimore over the last several decades. The Baltimore Community Foundation, Annie E. Casey and Goldseker foundations have “impact” funds” dedicated to generating local returns — creating jobs, improving neighborhoods and hopefully spreading wealth.