Turning roadblocks into opportunities

Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Otto Bremer Trust Small Business Fund invested $1 million in loan capital to help the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) provide new ways for minority entrepreneurs to access capital. This investment allowed Pride Cleanup to establish a line of credit that helps fund living-wage jobs for minorities and underserved members of the community.

“Sports saved me,” says JD Pride. Growing up in North Carolina, with his mom working two night jobs, JD made some mistakes. But he went All-American in high school and attended the University of Minnesota on a football scholarship. In 1976, after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins, he didn’t make the team. “I was a good player,” he says. “The first time I ran goal line, the quarterback handed me the ball, the hole opened up and I thought, I got this. I took another step and it wasn’t there. I got pounded. I just wasn’t fast enough.”

YOU HAVE TO GET UP EVERY MORNING BECAUSE EVERY DAY ISN'T A GOOD DAY. MOST DAYS ARE SHAKY, BUT IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN SOMETHING, YOU'LL CONTINUE.

In 2015, JD and his son started Pride Cleanup, LLC, a highway heavy construction company that works with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He takes pride in being able to provide living-wage jobs for minorities.

JD Pride talks about what he looks for in an employee and why he focuses on hiring minority job seekers.

“As I ride around town and see people working on buildings, there aren’t many who look like me,” he says.

Many Pride Cleanup employees are college athletes who once dreamed of playing professional football. “We look for a work ethic,” JD says. “A lot of it goes hand-in-hand with what they learned on the field. Get up in the morning. Go to class. These guys are highly motivated, highly disciplined, and ready to be a team player and get the job done.”

THE KEY TO SUCCESS IS TO STAY WITH IT. NEVER QUIT. IF YOUR HEART IS IN IT, YOU'LL CONTINUE ON.

For JD, running a business is about doing something you enjoy. “It’s a matter of wanting to accomplish a goal,” he says. “You work for that goal from the time you get up in the morning until you go to sleep at night. There are roadblocks in being a person of color in an industry dominated by white males, but I’ve been able to find some prime contractors to help us along. When they see where your heart is, and that you want to work hard for them, they give you an opportunity. You use that opportunity to do the best you can.”

With support from the Otto Bremer Trust, MEDA helps entrepreneurs like JD Pride grow successful businesses and provide living-wage jobs to Minnesota's minority workforce.