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Entrepreneurship and economic development are key focuses being brought to north Tulsa as Tulsa Economic Development Corporation also known as TEDC Creative Capital (TEDC) revitalizes a dilapidated, historic building that has sat vacant for years.
The Tulsa Development Authority approved schematic design plans last week for the rehabilitation of the historic Morton Health Center. The former hospital complex on TDA-owned property at 660 E. Pine St. will be converted into an entrepreneurship center to be known as GEM (Greenwood Entrepreneurship at Moton) at a cost of roughly $9 million.
“I am eager to bring this entrepreneurship hub to life in north Tulsa as we make available the tools we have as a City to make this a reality,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum, who also serves as the Chair for the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity. “This hub will provide a dynamic space for innovators and entrepreneurs and will soon further provide opportunities for many Tulsans, especially those who live and work in our north Tulsa community.”
TEDC will lead the project, purchasing the TDA property.
“When TEDC is asked to embark on a commercial development project, the needs and desires of the community are at the forefront of our thinking,” said Rose Washington-Jones, CEO of TEDC. “As a community development financial institution, our intention is to use the engine of small businesses to create economic prosperity.”
Construction and History
Locally based KKT Architects is overseeing the design. The firm will provide construction plans once a decades-old addition to the building has been demolished and a forensic examination conducted, Barry Goldstein of KKT Architects said. The original hospital layout encompasses about 9,000 square feet, he said.
According to the Tulsa World, the original Motonmunicipal hospital opened in 1932 as a replacement for the Maurice Willows Red Cross Hospital, which had begun serving patients at 314 N. Hartford Ave. in the wake of the destruction of Black Wall Street. Moton was named for Robert Russa Moton, an African-American educator and second superintendent of the renowned Tuskegee Institute.
“I’m excited for the impact and essential support GEM will provide to north Tulsans to help rebuild the legacy of Black Wall Street,” District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said. “This will serve as a space that provides an opportunity for black small businesses to produce prosperous entrepreneurs and accelerate economic opportunity within our community.”
After Moton briefly closed in the late 1960s, it reopened as a clinic, and two other buildings were added to the small complex over the next decade. The name was changed in 1983 to honor Dr. W.A. Morton, a local physician. In 2006, operations transferred to a new 60,000-square-foot clinic less than a half-mile away at 1334 N. Lansing Ave., Morton Comprehensive Health Services.
In May of 2021, the City of Tulsa announced plans to provide $4 million to support GEM, which was ultimately approved by the Tulsa City Council.
The $4 million budget amendment includes:
- $2.5 million to redevelop the historic hospital;
- $500,000 to support business development assistance and courses
– $1 million to seed the Build Tulsa Fund, a loan program available to businesses participating in GEM
The building has a basement and three floors. The current design includes offices, a lounge, media room and work stations on the first floor. A large conference room, offices and a kitchenette will sit on the second floor. The top floor will feature a 40-person event space, work stations and a flex conference room.
About TEDC Creative Capital
TEDC Creative Capital (aka TEDC) is a community development financial institution (CDFI) providing progressive lending to promising start-ups and growing businesses. TEDC builds equitable economic prosperity by helping small companies operate more successfully, create jobs, and advance communities! Loans range from $500 to $10 million.
Visit TEDC online or call 918-585-8332 for more information on loan and entrepreneurial education programs! If you’re not a business owner but want to explore ownership, please contact TEDC! If you know someone who may need TEDC assistance, please share this story!
TEDC’s ongoing funding partners include the City of Tulsa (U.S. HUD CDBG), PartnerTulsa, Tulsa County, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the CDFI Fund of the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bank of Oklahoma, Chase, and GKFF, and Schusterman Family Philanthropies.