Kickstart It

The New York City Council Now Using Kickstarter For Community Development

A somewhat new direction for the local startup.
screen shot 2012 08 13 at 1 39 59 pm The New York City Council Now Using Kickstarter For Community Development

Discover NYC.

Is there anyone who isn’t on Kickstarter these days? The latest bandwagon-jumpers: The New York City Council, which has partnered with the artsy crowdfunding platform to create a landing page that highlights New York City-based projects.

The move is positioned as a way to help business owners in low-income neighborhoods get access to hard-to-find capital, a persistent problem.

Remember when microlending was going to solve everything? Now it’s crowdfunding. Wonder what it’ll be in five years? 

From the announcement:

The Council’s page will serve as a place for residents to pledge their support for local projects that have the potential to yield a variety of benefits to underserved communities. With projects ranging from neighborhood urban farms to public art installations and performances to co-ops and cafes – the potential for positive community change, civic engagement and urban renewal is limitless.

Held up as a success story is Seasoned Vegan, a restaurant that’ll open in Harlem in September, thanks to a $22,185 Kickstarter campaign.

Projects currently in the spotlight include a “Beatboxing Program for Blind Kids in the Bronx,” pop-up and performance project “The Last Night of Service at Chez Gourmet,” and “Brownsville Student Farm Project.” A mixed bag, but it sounds like the Council has big ambitions for this little landing page:

“From East New York to the South Bronx, we’re going to kickstart New York’s low-income communities through our partnership with Kickstarter, said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “New Yorkers are still struggling, and we need to do everything we can to give people a leg up.”

To our ears, that’s a new positioning for Kickstarter, which–despite its blossoming reputation as a place for hardware startups to raise money–has hewn pretty hard toward the artsy, rather than the pragmatic. In fact, the whole plan also sounds an awful lot like what two nascent New York City-based startups, SmallKnot and Lucky Ant, are already doing–offering platforms explicitly tailored to the needs of small businesses looking to raise money.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com