Café and coworking space provide economic empowerment

Tracy Powell and Nikki Bravo are the founders of Momentum Coffee & Coworking. The coffee and coworking space opened a location in Millennium Park in November. Photos provided by Christi Love
Tracy Powell and Nikki Bravo are the founders of Momentum Coffee & Coworking. The coffee and coworking space opened a location in Millennium Park in November. Photos provided by Christi Love

 Café and coworking space provide economic empowerment

BY TIA CAROL JONES
Tracy Powell and Nikki Bravo have opened the successful Momentum Coffee & Coworking at Millennium Park located
at 11 N. Michigan. This new location builds upon the business owners’ mission to grow and develop new and emerging businesses in the Black community.

The business, which sits right under the Cloud Gate sculpture, has been doing robust business since it opened in November.

In 2017, Powell and Bravo opened their first coworking space Blue Lacuna, located at 2150 S. Canalport. The space is dedicated to creating opportunities for entrepreneurs who are people of color and from under resourced communities. It offers offices, an open coworking space and a small event space.

Ignite Technology and Innovation is the nonprofit organization run by Powell and Bravo. Its mission is to accelerate small
businesses and it offers classes and workshops to youth in technology and entrepreneurship.


The next step for them was to figure out how to go into other neighborhoods, with a focus on what is feasible. They decided that having coffee in the coworking space was a good fit. While people like to work in coffee shops, they aren’t often equipped with all the resources small business owners need.

In 2019, Powell and Bravo opened the first location of Momentum Coffee & Coworking at 2115 S. State St. That location, in the South Loop, offers huddle spaces, a conference room and an open coworking area. The idea was to branch out from the
14,000 square feet Pilsen location and have smaller locations with a maximum impact on the neighborhoods.

There are two other locations currently in construction. One in Englewood and another in North Lawndale. The goal is to open both at the end of the first quarter of 2022. Powell hopes that Momentum Coffee & Coworking will be able to open more locations in other communities.

For Bravo and Powell, it is not just about the buildings their coffee and coworking spaces are located in, even though it is the
place where they start creating spaces.
 

“Before that, there weren’t any great spaces for people to accelerate their businesses, to start their businesses, or to have
programs and meetings in our neighborhoods. Folks were going outside our neighborhoods to have meetings and I felt like if we were going to have a viable community, having spaces in those neighborhoods makes sense,” Powell said.

It helps the neighborhood and people in the community because Momentum bases its programs on entrepreneurship and
building businesses. The aim is to accelerate new businesses and start up businesses in that space. There is an afterschool coding
program, in partnership with the Chicago Urban League, as well as a weekend robotics program for the youth.

The coworking space works on a monthly membership, or a daily memberships. Monthly memberships cost $125 and daily memberships cost $25. People can also rent conference rooms and huddle spaces.

For more information about Momentum & Coworking, visit www.momentumcoffee. org. For more information about Ignite
Technology and Innovation, visit www. ignitetechnology.org.

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