People in the Russell community say there's a restaurant, a liquor store and a dollar store in the neighborhood. Beyond that, neighbors have to leave the area to buy something.

“Right now, Russell is kind of bleak,” Rev. Dr. Jamesetta Ferguson said. “We want more. We need more.”

Not only is Ferguson the pastor of St. Peter's Church, she's also the executive director of a financial counseling organization called Molo Village in the Russell neighborhood.

“One of the things we wanted to do was to encourage people to improve their credit scores, knowing that it's very difficult to purchase anything without having credit,” Ferguson said.

Molo Village also helps people who were incarcerated reintegrate back into the community.

“We want to encourage individuals in our community to be more responsible,” Ferguson said.

That's why Molo Village is helping to build the Village at West Jefferson in an empty parking lot at 12th and Jefferson Streets. Molo Village will have offices inside the Village at West Jefferson on the first floor next to a variety of stores. There are six other tenants currently expressing interest in signing a lease.

Ferguson hopes businesses like clothing stores and a bakery will show interest. 

“Right now, there's only one sit-down restaurant in the Russell community, so we're hoping that we can get another restaurant here,” Ferguson said.

The second floor will be office space for companies to rent.

“Right now, there are over 12,000 jobs in the Russell Community and only about 100 of them are occupied by residents in this community,” Ferguson said.

The goal is to create employment opportunities for people who live in the neighborhood and to keep some of the money in the community that's typically spent elsewhere.

The Village at West Jefferson will break ground in the spring and is scheduled to open a little more than a year later.

Molo Village has recently started leasing space inside The Village at West Jefferson when it opens. Interested businesses should call 502-510-5184. 

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