Honoring Germantown’s Past By Looking Towards Its Future [entry-title permalink="0"] By

A nonprofit group that started as a means of protesting issues in Germantown is hoping to expand its operations.

Germantown United Community Development Corporation is a startup nonprofit led by Andrew Trackman, its president and only full- time employee.

Trackman was enthusiastic when speaking about the mission of the three-year-old organization.

“We hope to promote and facilitate the revitalization of Germantown’s business corridors through a sustainable and creative approach to economic development”.

Prior to becoming a nonprofit, GUCDC was a street protest group that developed when issues in the community arose in 2011.

Real estate developers planned on renovating an area but dismissed the concerned voices of the locals.

A year after successfully deterring the ill sought project, Germantown United’s Board members decided to change the approach from activist group to nonprofit and has been steadily evolving since.

Establishing community events like Movie Nights in Vernon Park during the summer, hosting fall and spring time street festivals, announcing new partnerships with Stan Smith real estate and Philadelphia University, moving into the nonprofit’s first office, and preparing to hire another full time employee with the help of a fundraiser are just some of the CDC’s board members and volunteers accomplishments of 2013.

They have even more planned for 2014.

“I think this a great time in Germantown,” said Joe Martin a member of the nonprofit’s board.

Martin believes that GU is at a period of extensive growth.

“A lot of things have been going on over the last nine months that has shown the benefit of having a local CDC,” Martin said.

Some of the most impactful ways Germantown United has been able to reach out to local companies is through creating the historic neighborhood’s first business directory and by hosting quarterly business information sessions at the Business Center where owners are invited to attend presentations regarding best practices.

“The last one we had focused on sources of capital which was from Goldman Sachs,” said Trackman.

Between 20-to-30 business owners attend the presentations on average.

The Board Members of Germantown United also act as liaisons for the local businesses and city government officials.

Martin shared that the nonprofit encouraged the managers of a local athletic store, G-Town Sports, to apply for the City of Philadelphia’s InStore Grant that gives up to $50,000 to a business to improve their store’s interior.

G-Town Sports successfully secured the grant. Helping create more opportunities like this for local businesses is what Germantown United CDC aims to do.

But to provide such assistance, the organization needs more staff and more money.

On March 6th, Germantown United hosted its first “For The Love of Germantown” fundraiser. The event’s purpose was to raise money to hire a second full-time employee.

Going along with the theme of celebrating historic neighborhood, local culinary sensation Rose Petals Cafe & Lounge catered the event with a menu inspired by a well-known 18th century caterer from Germantown named John Trower.

Trower had an eccentric way of presenting his food and was very well known for his mastery of seafood, especially oysters and terrapin soup.

“We won’t be having that (terrapin soup), but we will be recreating some of his other dishes,” said Desmin Daniels, the owner and head chef of Rose Petals Café.

To learn more about Germantown United CDC, visit their website http://www.germantownunitedcdc.org/wp and discover more about local hot spot Rose Petal’s Cafe & Lounge at http://rosepetalscafe.com.

Comments, questions or corrections? Contact journalist at maddiehaaga@gmail.com.