Spotlight on Westside Entrepreneurship at the Summit

The Jan. 17 Transform Westside Summit was full of great moments! Our panel dropped some gems on how to support entrepreneurs and ways to invest in the talents and creativity of Westside youth. Panelists included: Chef Calvin Rouse, Owner of EDC Kitchen; Venessa Harrison, President of AT&T Georgia; and Rev. Winston Taylor, Historic Westside Community Member. Sylvia Russell, Former President of AT&T Georgia and Member of WFF’s Board of Directors moderated the panel.

In response to Ms. Russell’s question about why he chose to bring his businesses to Atlanta’s Westside, Winston Taylor said, “There’s a big debate that takes place so often in our community around housing and economics – which one comes first. I think they have to happen simultaneously…and when you do all these things simultaneously, then it allows a community to be healthy and sustainable.”

Rev. Taylor speaks

Rev. Winston Taylor speaks at the first Transform Westside Summit of 2020.

Rev. Taylor also spoke about striking a balance between housing development and economic development. He said: “That became our focus with the Beloved Community, to really then drive the economic development around the community.” Taylor emphasized, “Small business IS, IS, IS the transformation of the Westside!”

Rev. Taylor is an investor and community leader who is helping to revitalize the Westside with numerous initiatives including 960 M.L.K. Drive, an incubator for small businesses. Read more in this 2019 article from the SaportaReport.

Chef Calvin Rouse, Owner of EDC Kitchen

Chef Calvin Rouse, Owner of EDC Kitchen

Calvin Rouse was trading stocks before he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a chef. He has cooked for celebrities and contributed to notable culinary events but one of his passions is helping to prepare the next generation of chefs. With support from AT&T, WFF provided a program-related investment to Chef Rouse in 2019, which he is now leveraging to establish a quick-serve restaurant in the westside MLK corridor at 960 MLK Drive, owned by Reverend Winston Taylor. Additionally, Chef Rouse will partner with Booker T. High School in support of its culinary arts program.

Sylvia Russell asked Chef Rouse to share more about his decision to invest in culinary training for the students attending Booker T. Washington High School’s culinary arts program.

Rouse said: “Winston and I kind of had the same vision. We want to help build up the community, especially with Booker T. Washington right there.”  He added: “What I was trying to do was build an incubator kitchen, and low and behold, Booker T. Washington has a culinary program.”

He added: “So I see myself in those kids, and if I’m not going to do it, I mean, who else is going to do it. I just took that upon myself because I never had anybody to help me in that capacity. So, that’s why I do it.”

See the full recording of the Jan. 17 Transform Westside Summit here: Jan. 17, 2020 TWS