The Mercado Central is a retail business cooperative that was developed by the Latino immigrant community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Mercado Central (Cooperative Mercado Central) is the result of the creativity and hard work of members of this community, who joined forces with a faith-based organizing group and numerous community organizations to build a traditional marketplace in their inner-city neighborhood. Currently home to 44 businesses, the Mercado Central has transformed the lives of people in this community by recognizing their capacity to build their own local economy in a manner that reflected their traditions.
The Mercado story begins with the community organizing efforts of Isaiah, a coalition of churches in the Minneapolis area committed to mobilizing congregations to social action. In Minneapolis, asset-based community development principles were merged with traditional community organizing in a process of connecting the talent and energy of the community around issues such as building a church and working on immigration issues. These organizing efforts resulted in a community ready for change, and the Mercado Central is the economic engine for change they decided to create. The Mercado Central represents unfaltering commitment to leadership development, as well as one about how the power of community can overcome individual limitations.
A few examples of the important outcomes of this community-wide effort include:
- The community purchase and renovation of three dilapidated buildings; $2.4 million dollars invested.
Over $277 thousand dollars in small business loans made to new Latino businesses.
- Forty-four businesses established and/or expanded in the local community.
- First-year sales of over $2 million dollars at Mercado businesses, benefiting both owners–many of whom are local residents–and the neighborhood itself.
- Increased local employment opportunities at Mercado Central businesses; 70 new jobs employing mostly local people.
- Increased city and state revenues; over $80 thousand dollars is sales tax paid out by Mercado Central merchants in the first year of operation.
To read more about the building of the Mercado Central and its unique blend of asset-based community development and more traditional organizing, please look for Building the Mercado Central on our Publications page.