Member Spotlight: Lancaster Ave 21st Century Business Association

Lancaster Ave 21st Century Business Association
3500 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104

We spoke with Jacqueline Williams from Lancaster Ave 21st Century Business Association.

Tell us about how you got your start at Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association:

The Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association was founded in 2008 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity organization, CDC and RCO. Located in a federally mandated “Promise Zone,” LA21 serves communities in the West Philadelphia and the greater Philadelphia area. The Association was founded by George Stevens, Terri Shockley, Pearl Anderson and Jacqueline Williams. I have been involved with LA21 since its inception and currently serve as a board member and Director of Operations.

Our Mission & Vision
Our mission is to provide training, resources, and environment to help new and established businesses address the difficulties of starting, maintaining, and navigating the necessary changes needed to foster successful business growth and economic betterment of the Lancaster Avenue corridor and the city of Philadelphia. Our vision is to create an environment on Lancaster Avenue and within the Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Ecosystem where local businesses can not only survive, but also thrive. As an advocate for local business development, LA21-CDC is dedicated to supporting and encouraging the continued growth of each of our member businesses. LA21-CDC strives to influence business-friendly legislation in all levels of government, participate in initiatives to improve the community, present professional enrichment programs, and provide our members with cost-efficient ways to run their businesses.

What do you love most about the work you and your colleagues do?
Working as a CDC has both challenges and opportunities – It’s a labor of love hence we a known as “The Hand Holding Agency” for small businesses. There are many opportunities to collaborate with businesses, other CDC’s and the community to enhance the corridor and provide services to the community. LA21- CDC impacts businesses on Lancaster Avenue and other corridors citywide through our Technical Assistance (TA) program. The team is dynamic and “out of the box” thinkers, willing to go the extra mile to ensure businesses get the resources they need to scale. We have our LA21 staff members and consultants as well as eco-system members such as Widener university, Temple University, Penn, and The Commerce department for our work. We have two dynamic programs – PHL Start-Up program and LA21 Scale-Up Your Business program.

What would you like young people and others in the community to know about this program?

We have a variety of programs that serve all community members in Philadelphia. In addition to our two virtual programs discussed above we also have a youth entrepreneurship program and a Non-profit center – all virtually training and coaching startups and entrepreneurs.
We have a contract with the City of Philadelphia to clean and beautify Lancaster Avenue from 34th and Lancaster to Lansdowne Ave. As a result of our cleaning crew (Ambassadors) efforts, we have seen a significant decrease in the amount of trash on the corridor. The business owners are working with us to maintain a clean and safe corridor.
∙ Our Technical Assistance services for businesses include the following:
∙ Finance, Accounting and Tax Services
∙ Legal Services
∙ Digital, Online and Social Media services
∙ Marketing, planning and Business operational services
∙ Mentoring and Business coaching
∙ Free Access to LA-ERIC (Lancaster Avenue Entrepreneurs, Resource & Innovation Center)
We are a team that is committed to the success of entrepreneurs and communities in Philadelphia

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter into the type of work and programming you do?
The advice I would give is to be open and honest. Make sure you park your ego on your doorstep as you communicate with people on the corridor. In order to be effective in this type of work and the programming associated with the work, you must be willing to work outside of the 9-5, Monday-Friday time schedule. Flexibility, understanding, patience and most of all you must be able to work with all types of people and appreciate the process of solving problems.

What’s on the horizon for Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association? What are you excited about in the future?
As a CDC we are looking forward to expanding into owning real estate on commercial corridor to rent to our 200+ graduates who have attended our Scale Your Business program. Continue providing technical assistance and coaching to businesses at the 4th district Container Village located at 48th & Parkside. This initiative of Councilperson Curtis Jones.
The next cohort of our Scale Up Your Business program (Cohort 9) will begin on April 18 and we are still accepting applications on our website –

“Thank you so much for consistently cleaning in front of my store and sharing information with me. I appreciate LA21 sharing my events on their social media, it helps to promote my business” – Corridor business owner: Phyllis C, A Part of Me Boutique

MLK Day of Service 2023
  A partner event from 2022

Holiday Gifts from Black Dolls Matter
     MLK Day of Service 2023