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Friday, October 14, 2016

"Cleveland Hustles" is Happening All Over Again

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 11:49 AM

click to enlarge LeBron James  in Cleveland Hustles ad.
  • LeBron James in Cleveland Hustles ad.
'Cleveland Hustles' investor Alan Glazen announced at the show's season one finale Wednesday that a second season of the unscripted CNBC reality series was already in the works. 

"We are doing it all over again in 2017," he posted to Facebook Thursday. "Another million dollars and five funded businesses in another Cleveland neighborhood! Thanks to Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Inc. and COSE for being our first partners in Cleveland Hustles: CHAIN REACTION!!!!!"

Glazen wasn't immediately available for comment Friday, but the show's investors have hinted before that they've been in discussions about selecting another neighborhood in which to invest. 

It'll be interesting to see the route they take. 

The Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, and its Gordon Square epicenter, was portrayed on the show as a neighborhood in desperate need of revitalization, one ravaged by the loss of manufacturing jobs. And though that narrative is partly true, what's also true is that it's one of the hippest, most popular destination neighborhoods in town. Just take a look at the real estate. (Lakeview Townhomes starting at $364,900).  

Another likely truth: Bagels and bars and boutique leather shops wouldn't do well in someplace like Kinsman, where, among other things, entrepreneurship is limited by residents' disposable income. For better or worse, the current 'Cleveland Hustles' businesses are lifestyle amenities preferred by white, college-educated millennials from the suburbs.

It's nonetheless great to see the investment and the interest generated by the show. Still, it would be cool to see 'Cleveland Hustles' investors taking on a truly impoverished neighborhood in season two / Chain Reaction, one with more basic commercial needs: a grocery store with fresh and reasonably priced produce, for example. (We know that this isn't, strictly speaking, the show's aim, but it seemed worth pointing out.)

The partnership with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and their battery of community developers, ought to be a fruitful one. They should help the producers select an area where entrepreneurship can thrive. 

UPDATE: Cleveland Neighborhood Progress says that CNBC will likely move the series to another market, but that they sill have permission to use the "Cleveland Hustles name. They are working with local Fox 8 in regards to production for the second season and local airtime.

"Cleveland Neighborhood Progress will coordinate a competition for selecting the next neighborhood and we will also assist in recruitment of entrepreneurs," wrote Jeff Kipp, CNP's Director of Neighborhood Marketing. "CNP does not have a preference on which neighborhood is selected; but our focus will be on strengthening a local retail/business district in the city. We will stay engaged throughout the production to ensure city/neighborhood authenticity is showcased."

And not to be forgotten: While LeBron is spurring investment in Cleveland neighborhoods with the show, he's also continuing to invest in the youth of Akron through his Family Foundation. He announced Thursday that he was establishing the "I Promise Institute" on the University of Akron Campus.

The Institute is designed as a resource center for the students receiving free college tuition from James' foundation.  

“When we first started this program, I wanted my kids to graduate from high school. But the more we grow as a Foundation, the more we find can be done to give our kids the best chance to be successful,” LeBron James said in a LJFF statement. “We don’t just want our kids to get to college, we want them to graduate from college. And we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help them do that."

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