CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Can pop-up shops run by teenagers revitalize neighborhoods on Cleveland's East Side?
A local man believes they can.
Clevelander Tory Coats founded a program called Teen Enterprise.
The program encourages teenagers to learn about running their own small businesses.
The hope is they will then stay in their own neighborhoods, and create more opportunity.
You can't miss the boarded up storefronts on St. Clair in the Glenville neighborhood.
Tory Coats sees opportunity where some people see hopelessness.
"This community, with abandoned storefronts would become a technology center, a business incubator," he said, explaining his vision for the neighborhood.
For the last 10 years, Coats has helped teenagers in Cleveland empower themselves through Teen Enterprise.
"We think the best way to learn entrepreneurship is doing entrepreneurship," Coats said.
His "Dare to Believe" pop up shops are giving teens business experience and occupying some empty storefronts at the same time.
His big idea recently took center stage at "Accelerate Cleveland."
"I'm asking you today to invest in tomorrow's business leaders today, I'm asking you to dare to believe," Coats said a few weeks ago at Accelerate during his pitch in front of an audience of several hundred people.
Coats won $5,000 in the pitch competition, run by the Cleveland Leadership Center.
"What Accelerate does is it allows citizens of Northeast Ohio who have an idea to create positive change to give voice to it," said Cleveland Leadership Center President and CEO Marianne Crosley.
Now Coats's idea is picking up steam.
16-year-old Malika Glover just sold her first custom T-shirts at a pop-up shop.
She's thinking about running her own business one day.
"It's just a great learning experience. You really learn hands on and I think that's the best way to learn," Glover said.
Coats hopes teens like her will turn into business leaders and stay in the neighborhood to help turn it around.
"If we invest in our community, great things can happen. If we invest in our youth, great things can happen," Coats said.
He expects to hold more pop-up shops in the spring in several neighborhoods on the East side of Cleveland.