CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Queen City-based agency Heal Charlotte is working to mend the wounds in parts of the I-85/Sugar Creek corridor plagued by gun violence and economic inequity.
"Owning buildings, community land trusts things that stop gentrification from happening that is our biggest barrier,” Heal Charlotte Founder Greg Jackson said.
Jackson said his emotions boiled over after he spent several nights on the frontlines protesting the shooting death of Keith Scott at the hands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police in 2016.
“It was just continuous that year," Jackson told WCNC. “It was just story after story of unarmed Black men, unarmed Black women, and it was just piling up.”
He poured that pile of emotion into a passion for the community -- harnessing his energy into Heal Charlotte, which is a community outreach organization. Jackson is laser focused on the I-85/Sugar Creek Corridor. Heal fosters everything from increasing police engagement with the community to establishing after-school programs for kids.
“That's youth programming, rental assistance whatever we can do to provide a safe community and a vibrant community where we represent -- we do that,” Jackson explained.
In September, Heal Charlotte enlisted the help of social media influencers, athletes and entertainers to launch a "Stop The Violence" marketing campaign about building a safe community where he says everyone can thrive.
“The amount of traffic that we have access to… the access for people to us because of exits... we have a human trafficking dynamic that we have to deal with,” he said.
Heal is currently in the midst of a $10 million capital campaign to reclaim Reagan Drive in the area. The group intends to outright own the Baymont Suites Hotel where they currently lease space to house homeless families.
Their vision is big, and their goal is to cultivate hope in Charlotte's 28213 zip code.
“People move differently when they have a family and a safety net," Jackson said.