Jacquie Berglund has led a movement of social entrepreneurship out of Elliot Park for years. The company she founded, Finnegans, uses its profits from selling beer to get food from farms into the hands of the hungry. With six years in the neighborhood, Berglund is now planning a major expansion of Finnegans with a one-of-a-kind “brewtel” project that is expected to bring more beer lovers and entrepreneurs like herself to Elliot Park. We asked Berglund about her vision of the neighborhood.
Q: Why did you choose Elliot Park to be the home of Finnegans?
My sister worked for Catholic Charities and they have the Opportunity Center over here. When I was deciding where I was going to move, she said Elliot Park was a great neighborhood and that it would be good to bring in some social, entrepreneurial energy. There are also several nonprofits and social companies here in the Finnegans building. We’re a staff of five and six interns, and it’s just been great place to work and have a social business.
In 2009, we were in the Hinkle-Murphy House and that was actually the first office we ever had. I was working out of my sister’s condo before that. We were there until 2012 and then moved across the parking lot in 2012 to the Segue Café building.
Where do you like to go in the neighborhood?
We love the Segue Café. It’s really a central gathering place here in the neighborhood. We have the Normandy Inn over here and the Band Box Diner. We try support the locals in the neighborhood.
Finnegans is one part of a full-block development with Kraus-Anderson in Elliot Park. What do you want the project to do for the neighborhood?
I’m so excited to be able to do this sort of lifelong dream project in Elliot Park. And I’m really excited to enhance what’s already here and helping to add some fun, creative pieces to the neighborhood fabric. And it’s going be to great to have another bar and restaurant. I’m excited for people to learn more about what Finnegans does to help feed the hungry.
Part of the project is to create a new social Finnovation Lab. What does that work look like?
That is what I’m doing as part of my Bush Fellowship work. I’ve been meeting with several local colleges to create a pipeline for folks who are studying entrepreneurship. There are a lot of social businesses, which are maybe 2, 3 or 4 people, that are isolated and working on their own. This will provide resources, capital and a whole program to help these businesses succeed and thrive. Our metrics for this are really how many livable wage jobs are created. And it’s going to be a great way to raise the platform for entrepreneurs and the social business movement.
Along with Finnegans’ project, Hennepin County Medical Center is also planning a full-block development and then there’s U.S. Bank Stadium. How do you feel about the changing neighborhood?
It’s a really exciting time in the neighborhood. The East Downtown Council, Elliot Park Neighborhood Inc. and folks are doing a great job at really being intentional about what they’re creating in the neighborhood. I’m so encouraged and excited from neighborhood meetings where residents are turning up and really participating in this process to develop their neighborhood. There are folks who want to feel a sense of neighborhood and community. I hope our project is a part of this.