Meet Gerrard and Racheal Allen, the visionary couple who saw a gap in the co-working space in Detroit and decided to fill it with a market designed specifically for Black professionals. As Detroit natives, they were all too familiar with the lack of diversity in traditional co-working spaces and the barriers that often prevent Black professionals from advancing in their careers. With a passion for creating inclusive and equitable opportunities, the Allens embarked on a mission to create an environment where Black professionals could thrive, collaborate and succeed. The result? Centric Place, a co-working space that has become a hub for Black entrepreneurs, freelancers and creatives in the city of Detroit.
The idea for the co-working space began when the couple faced challenges in finding space for their growing small businesses and classes. The concept evolved from iterations to what is now a unique and innovative space for people with similar needs. The Allens realized that there were likely many others in the area looking for a venue or workspace.
“Because we live in Oakland County, but had primarily worked in Detroit, we realized that there were probably a lot of other folks who were looking for a venue or places to have celebrations or co-working,” said Racheal Allen. “We had no idea that we would become the first co-working space of any field or that we would be creating a first of its kind in Metro Detroit. It took about 60 days to build out the space and it’s been positively received. We’re building something that really just hadn’t existed in the ecosystem, which is something not only Black-owned and -operated, but, to your point, centers that Black experience and all of the work we do particularly in art, culture and entrepreneurship.”
Centric Place embodies the unique strengths and passions of its founders. Racheal brings a wealth of experience in entrepreneurship and community development to the table and plays a vital role in curating programs that support and empower businesses and entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Gerrard’s 20 years of experience in cultural programming have focused on fostering the growth and appreciation of literary arts through various social events and gatherings. Together, their complementary skill sets have helped make Centric Place a dynamic and thriving hub for creativity, innovation and community engagement.
“The arts and culture parts are really where I have flourished professionally, and Racheal has flourished in entrepreneurship. This allows us to be collaborative, and be supportive of each other, while pouring into our passions,” said Gerrard Allen.
By providing a range of services this creative business-minded couple has found a way to introduce a hub for inspiration and development. Gerrard has been cultivating exhibitions while creating a tone throughout the space that brings comfort and echoes with visitors. The permanent Ebony installation includes over 100 original Ebony magazines dating back to the 1960’s. The collection was inherited from Gerrard’s grandparents.
“People look forward to taking a picture in front of it and sharing with their grandkids, explaining the era and what point of life they were in during that time. That focal point really allows folks to come in and recognize that this is a Black space. But also the excellence that resonates from those magazines spills over into everything that we do. So, as soon as you come in you are picking up the aura of the era of the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
Centric Place not only creates a welcoming atmosphere, but it also serves as a top-tier destination for businesses looking to grow. The facility offers classes and courses, such as Operations School, which Rachel uses to share her expertise and help other business owners gain a deeper understanding of the industry. This approach aims to create a more organized and educated small business ecosystem, particularly for minority business owners, which can lead to a higher success rate in the industry.
“We are really excited to be developing programming and partnerships right now. And we’re really hoping to build a deeper partnership with stakeholders in Oakland County, so that Centric Place can become one of the largest hubs for disadvantaged and minority businesses. We are unapologetic about having a very bold vision that would make such a place the first of its kind in the state.”
Located on a 12-acre compound surrounded by various buildings, Airbnbs and homes, the coworking space covers an area of 10,000 square feet. With plans to broaden their services throughout the entire 12-acre property, the couple also hopes to replicate the same concept in other states and countries.
Centric Place is open to the public for co-working space, event rental, art exhibitions, classes and more. The Allens hope that the community will visit and become involved with the vision. Centric Place is located at 36216 Freedom Road in Farmington Hills. Learn more about the Allens’ programs at centricplace.com.