Ryan Sanders is a community servant with a big mission. Sanders is part of a group of young Black men who are reinvesting their time, money, and other resources into the Harrisburg community to create affordable housing and opportunities for their own people.
Sanders, a partner at Vice Capital, along with NFL players LeRon McCoy and LeSean McCoy, and a partner at RB Development, with Blaine Stoddart, is emphasizing affordable housing for Blacks to regain financial security.
“There is an overall need for affordable housing. Being from the inner city, I have witnessed people living on limited income levels,” Sanders, 36, said. “Housing is a large expense that a lot of people struggle with paying each month.”
When he was 21, Sanders attended a financial empowerment seminar hosted by Zig Ziglar that featured Robert Kiyosaki and President Donald Trump. At the time, he wanted to own a home, but he wanted to find resources. A mentor encouraged him to attend this seminar in order for him to learn more about financial freedom through real estate. The seminar inspired Sanders to begin a career in real estate.
The first of many projects for Sanders is the Jackson Square project. There are three phases to that project. The first phase is the historical preservation of three parcels that will include mixed income housing and commercial space. The second phase is an enhanced median and new sidewalks, pavers, and historical markers. Lastly, the third phase will include a $13.5 million affordable housing complex for area senior citizens that will replace a blighted lot which was the former site of the Bethel AME Church that burned down in 1995.
The project will be mixed use, between residential and commercial. Sanders plans to attract ambitious Pennsylvania business owners as commercial tenant at the Jackson Square location. He encourages Black business owners to apply as commercial tenants as an opportunity to unite and practice cooperative economics.
“We want to provide all business owners an opportunity, but we understand the historical and socioeconomic hurdles African-Americans have faced. That is why we implemented a mandatory minority inclusion goal for the entire project to exceed 30%. This will ensure that minority and local contractors are not overlooked when projects in occur in their own city,” Sanders said.
Recently, Sanders led the commemoration ceremony for Calobe Jackson, a Harrisburg native and community servant. The resounding theme of the ceremony was legacy. Jackson Square was home to historic Harrisburg families. It was so important that, during its height, it housed Black greats like Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and heavyweight champion Joe Louis.
“Legacy is very important to me,” Sanders, who has a one-year-old son, said. “As a father it’s important to me that we showcase the existing legacy. Blacks having ownership makes it possible to give back to our own people, however we determine.”
Jackson Square, known as Black Wall Street, should be replicated in cities worldwide. Sanders points to the cultural centers common in major cities, like a China Town or the Amish/Mennonite communities for example, of similar communities of what Blacks can accomplish.
The late Nipsey Hussle was building a community. Sanders says he is using a similar method as Nipsey to inspire change and hope in Blacks. He is showing that ownership and vertical integration within a company’s supply chain is imperative for growth.