To Our Lake Street Minneapolis Community: We're Listening, Learning and Re-Opening

  • Sep 17, 2020
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A note from Cephas Williams Jr., group vice president, Target:

I joined Target in 2009 because I wanted to grow my career at a company that was heavily invested in the community. When I became responsible for the stores in the Minneapolis area in January of 2020, I found a real point of pride at the Lake Street store. We’ve operated there for more than 40 years and have become a part of the community, with many of our team members living within walking distance of the store.

When George Floyd was murdered nearby, I felt the same anger, despair and exhaustion that I know many of our Black team members and guests across the country also felt. As demonstrations for racial justice followed, I’ll admit I struggled to ground myself in Target’s purpose, especially as a Black man who knows the challenges people of color face in this country every day. How do you bring joy to all families in a community that has not only long struggled with economic and racial disparities, but now has been torn apart? In the midst of more injustice, pain and suffering, how do you inspire and bring hope?

When I got a call from our CEO, Brian Cornell, I knew the answer. He asked, “What do you need from me?” I told him: We need to reopen our Lake Street store as soon as we possibly can.

Lake Street store progress

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Today, with construction well underway, I recognize that how we rebuild is just as important—if not more so—as when we rebuild. We want the Lake Street community to view this store as a part of itself, not just a place to shop. So we’re listening to the voices of the community and applying what we’re learning, and will continue to do so.

To start, we’re rebuilding the store hand-in-hand with the people who live nearby. We’ve partnered with Noor Companies, a local and Black-woman-owned general contractor and developer, to lead our rebuilding efforts. We’ve hired diverse subcontractors to assist with the project, several of whom employ team members from the local area. We’ve also brought in ConstructReach, a workforce development organization that introduces young diverse talent to the construction industry, to help with the project. Today, I’m proud to share a sneak peek at some of the work underway. Take a look:

We know that local access to essential food, medicine and supplies is critical—which is why we’re working quickly to reopen our doors in mid-November. This will be one of the fastest rebuilds of a Target store ever.

In the meantime, the community still has needs while we work to reopen. That’s why we’ve partnered with Lake Street nonprofits such as the YWCA throughout the summer to provide essential food and supplies to those in need. We accelerated $1 million in grants for small business recovery and rebuilding through the Target Foundation, supporting organizations such as the African Economic Development Solutions, the Latino Economic Development Center, the Neighborhood Development Center and the Lake Street Council. We’ve also kicked off our commitment to 10,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services for Black-, Indigenous- and people-of-color-owned businesses in the Twin Cities to help with their rebuilding efforts. And local team members have volunteered hundreds of hours to help with clean-up and community support in the area.

There’s no doubt we have work to do—both inside and outside Target. Looking ahead, I know we have opportunities to drive lasting change, and I have hope. Seeing the work underway at this store, I feel our purpose in action. When we reopen our doors, the Lake Street store will be a place where our guests can discover the joy of everyday life—a place that’s welcoming and hopeful. We’ve expanded our food and beverage section in response to community feedback, built an additional entry next to the light rail to accommodate commuters and added touches inside and outside the store—like landscaping—to create a warm and inspiring place for guests. Our longer-term commitment is to create a space where the Lake Street community sees itself reflected—from the artwork on the walls to the products on our shelves. We’ll keep listening to you to make sure we get there.

I look forward to welcoming our guests back and to hearing more from you about how our store can better serve your needs, now and into the future. I know we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the impact we can have. I’m excited to be a part of that impact, and honored to be here on the front lines with you.

With gratitude and hope,
Cephas Williams Jr.

Click here to read this story in Spanish.

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