On December 4, 2014, the Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC) was awarded $50,000 by the just retired Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky who served as Supervisor of the Third District for twenty years. The award represents part of the last spending by his office for his district. The district includes Thai Town. Yaroslavsky was just replaced by the newly elected Sheila Kuehl, a former California State Senator. She was sworn into her new office on December 1st, 2014.
The grant was awarded to fund part of the construction cost for Thai CDC’s Thai Town Marketplace Project. The Thai Town Marketplace (TTMP) is a public market that provides entrepreneurs with small business opportunities, creates permanent jobs, and helps low-income individuals become economically self-sufficient. It provides an ideal low-cost entry point for starting a business. The public market will also improve access to affordable, nutritious and culturally-appropriate foods. The East Hollywood area is culturally and ethnically diverse, with large Latino, Armenian and Thai communities. We consider this tapestry of cultures an asset. The multi-cultural aspect of the market will create an authentic marketplace based on ethnic foods, artisanship and traditional products reflective of the diverse cultures of the area.
Some of the community benefits of the TTMP include:
• Bolsters cultural tourism in Thai town.
• Creates 39 – 40 entrepreneurship, management and service jobs.
• Supports 18 food retail and artisan small businesses.
• Promotes healthy eating, lifestyles, and safe public spaces for social integration.
• Hosts an outdoor farmer’s market.
The Thai Town Marketplace is an innovative approach to community revitalization which facilitates economic empowerment and improvement of public spaces. It is a self-sustaining business incubator in a public market setting that is a living, dynamic entity, which will evolve over time to maintain its economic viability. Representing Thai CDC’s first commercial venture, the Thai Town Marketplace, to be located at the Hollywood/Western Redline Metro Stop at the gateway of Thai Town, is designed to be a social enterprise business incubator that aims to create living-wage jobs and economic self- sufficiency for Thai and other ethnic entrepreneurs in the East Hollywood area. The project strives to reduce barriers to small business ownership and enhance cultural tourism by increasing public transit use and activating the sidewalk.
This self-sustaining $ 1.6 million project has been eight years in the making and has received funding from:
Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services – $468,821
Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco AHEAD Grant – $25,000
Union Bank Foundation Grant – $20,000
City of Los Angeles, CDBG – $892,200
US Council of Catholic Bishops, Campaign for Human Development – $75,000
Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger – $10,000
East Hollywood Neighborhood Council – $1,000
Because the TTMP is a business incubator, the vendors will receive entrepreneurship training through our Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program. Through ongoing technical assistance and shared office equipment for vendors, businesses will not only be aided in creating a business but nurtured to survive and grow through the early stages of business development where most businesses are vulnerable to failing.
The Thai Town Marketplace will create the first “Health and Wealth Zone” which links health outcomes with economic outcomes by helping low-income residents start a business, obtain financial and health literacy, and access nearby social services. In this endeavor, the Thai Town Marketplace becomes a one-stop destination for food, culture and resources that is strategically located next to the Hollywood and Western Metro stop.
This project is scheduled to “break-ground” sometime in December with construction starting in mid-January and completed in the summer of 2015. The TTMP serves as another project developed by Thai CDC to help revitalize Thai Town through entrepreneurship and economic development.