Ownership initiatives initial pledge of $20K, promises more in continued effort
Among entrepreneur Steven Kemler’s most notable business ventures is “The M” in Seattle. This 24-story student residence is the first high-rise development in the city’s University District in more than 30 years. Located on the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and NE 47th Street, The M stands for what is possible in ultra-energy-efficient student housing adjacent to a large public university. Kemler, who was one of the two original investors in the project, says it is the perfect union between an environmental conscience community and a large public university system that puts the safety of its students and the health of the environment first.
With COVID-19 crippling economies globally, our nation’s cities and towns are struggling. Unemployment has skyrocketed and some businesses may not survive the stay-at-home orders and new social distancing requirements that have been put in place to protect the public. Steve says The M is trying to alleviate some of those consequences on a local level.
With a strong commitment to the community since its inception in 2012, The M recognizes the indelible contributions small businesses make to forming the character of a community, especially in the U-District where urban-dwelling and commerce normally co-exist so effectively.
Since the beginning of April, The M aligned with the U-District Partnership and UHeights to launch a specialized community campaign during this time of uncertainty. This partnership pledged $20,000 through gift cards and product purchases intended to offer support for local businesses and frontline workers at nearby hospitals such as UW Medical Center’s Montlake campus. Additional assistance has been extended with programs like emergency childcare, delivery of more than 1,000 facemasks for essential workers at local businesses and donating locally purchased lunches to health care workers.
With stay-at-home measures still in effect, much of the campaign has been online and is operated by a small group of volunteers. The M, which has come to symbolize the changing U-District during its construction, has also been creative in developing challenges and bake-offs that can be completed from the safety of home. The prizes for these challenges are gift cards for local businesses, which they hope will drive traffic and boost sales at those stores.
Kemler adds that the campaign was originally intended to last the month of April only, but is now being extended as a way to continue support and help the local community survive the economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.