Ignite Institute Hosts 3rd Annual Local Living Economy Summit

#LLESummit and #IgnitingAction were local trends on Twitter during the 3rd Annual Local Living Economy Summit, which took place on May 12 in the Mac Mahon Student Center at Saint Peter’s University.  The event attracted enthusiastic leaders from business, city government, philanthropic foundations, nonprofits and higher education who contributed to the online conversation with over 1,000 tweets. The online and in-person discussions focused on sustainable local economic development and local small business development policies.

Produced by Rising Tide Capital (RTC), the event was hosted by the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University. Titled “Actionable Ideas & Resources to Spark Innovation for Shared Prosperity,” the summit presented an opportunity for ideas to be shared on ways to support local entrepreneurial initiatives, which help to create new opportunities through workforce development and small business cluster-based growth.

“Jersey City is constantly growing. There is a lot to be proud of,” said Jersey City Mayor, Steven M. Fulop H ’16 during the opening bell and welcome.

The goal of the meeting was to “Take an eco-system approach and look at our local community with a broader lens,” said co-founder and CEO of Rising Tide Capital, Alfa Demmellash H ’10. She continued, “Community wealth, not just individual wealth comes from people making decisions with their hearts as well as their heads.”

Attendees participated in focus groups, listened to panel discussions and heard from speakers such as Mayor Fulop; Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University; Sue Henderson, Ph.D., president of New Jersey City University; Rev. Reginald McRae, chief diversity & inclusion officer, City of Jersey City; Marcos Vigil, deputy mayor, City of Jersey City; and Matt Stinchcomb, co-founder and executive director of

“Believing that your small dream will become something big takes a tremendous amount of courage,” Fulop said of Jersey City small business owners.

In a panel discussion titled, “Place-Sourced Entrepreneurship & Inclusive Innovation,” attendees heard from local business owners: Niambi Cacchioli, founder of Bloomsbvury Sq.; Geoffrey Allen, president and CEO of Property Maintenance Guys; and Beatrice Johnston, CEO of Brand Excitement.

“I am going to do this for the people around me,” said Allen of his decision to start his own business, and keep it local. Cacchioli commented that her local soap business brings the community together through healing. Johnston said, “The greatest disadvantage we can have is to feel invisible,” and she felt called to give people an identity. Not only does Johnston run a successful business, but she also makes it a point to walk a mile to and from her office every day, and interact with her community. All agree that they are helping Jersey City become a better place, and that they contribute to the economy by being community anchors. Local and small businesses not only have a positive impact on Jersey City’s economy, but they also have an impact on the people.

“If the city grows, Saint Peter’s grows,” Dr. Cornacchia said, and highlighted that he was making an effort to procure goods from more local vendors.

“Together, we will spark innovation for shared prosperity,” said Mary Kate Naatus, Ph.D., assistant professor of business and acting director of the Ignite Institute at Saint Peter’s University.

To see the digital conversations that took place during the summit, check the hashtags #LLESummit and #IgnitingAction. Follow the Ignite Institute on Twitter @ignitestpeters.