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Mali Center committed to building health and wealth in Rondo

A tall, pale brick building with a circular sign that says "Mali Center: Culture, Community, Connected"
The Mali Center

A new entrepreneurial hub dedicated to building economic wealth and physical health in Rondo opens its doors to the community July 1. 

The Mali Center, named after the West African empire renowned for the wealth of its rulers, is committed to creating wealth opportunities for residents of the historically Black neighborhood. Rondo was torn apart in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the construction of I-94. Founder Tyrone Minor says the Mali Center will be a tool for restoration in a community that desperately needs it. 

“Obviously, we'll never really be able to reclaim all that was lost when the freeway was built in the middle of that community. But what we can do is come together and build a new prosperous community that utilizes the genius and talented individuals already in the community,” said Minor. “My hope is that the Mali Center is something that the community benefits from long after I'm gone.”

A Black man wearing glasses, a dashiki, and a wooden bead necklace smiles into the camera.
Tyrone Minor

The center consists of 18 businesses, including entrepreneurs, community partners and The Fit Lab, which Minor established in 2013 to provide fitness entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their businesses and serve the community. Minor, a former professional athlete, says he was inspired to create the Mali Center because he saw a lack of career paths for the Black community outside of professional sports. 

“Oftentimes what happens is people that attain a certain level of success tend to go where the opportunities are. Which usually aren't in the community. And so you admire them from afar, but they're not accessible.”

Minor says his passion for sports got him a full athletic scholarship, helped him obtain three college degrees, and created the foundation for a stable life. Still, he says, he was just connecting to a common pathway for men who looked like him. He says the Mali Center will work to change the perception that sports is the only positive option for many young Black men.

“I would have thought much more early on about my life outside of athletics. I was a very good student in high school, but athletics… I used track and field as a passport to a better life,” said Minor.

A well equipped gym, with punching bags, weights, various workout machines, and a bright blue wall in the background.
The Fit Lab

Minor says the center’s philosophy of well-being is rooted in the five pillars of health: physical, financial, mental, spiritual, and social. Minor says community members will be able to take advantage of resources in all of these areas, and from professionals who reflect the community.

“I'm proud to say the majority of the entrepreneurs that call the Mali Center home are from Rondo,” said Minor.

The Mali Center is located 576 Front Ave in St. Paul. Currently, operation hours are determined by the specific service of business community members partake in.

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