Congressman Adam Schiff met up-and-coming vendors and local chefs at the Thai Town Marketplace in East Hollywood, which is slated to open this fall.
“Here we have these budding new entrepreneurs who are going to get their shot,” Schiff said, after a tour of the near-completed space.
The Thai Community Development Center started working on this project in 2006, but struggled to secure the funding to complete it. In the last federal budget, Congressman Schiff secured $1 million for the organization.
“We will be serving French crepes, panini sandwiches, fresh juices,” said Gina Christe. She and her husband, Eric, are Filipino immigrants, among 12 vendors who have been waiting for years to move in.
“We are very excited because the wait is over!” exclaimed Christe.
They operate a food truck called Batterberries, but this will be their first physical store.
“We’re actually quite popular at Melrose Trading Post and also at [the] Los Feliz flea market,” Christe said.
But now they are excited to serve people in their own community. The market will serve as a small business incubator.
“We raise them to pay for everything from security, childcare, marketing, electricity, water. The only thing they have to pay is their rent, which is assessed at 30% below market value,” said Chancee Martorell, founder and executive director of the Thai Community Development Center.
“We have Filipino immigrants. We have Thai immigrants. All the people who were low-wage workers, victims of human trafficking, vulnerable members of our community,” Martorell said.
The Thai CDC says this is an opportunity for them to strengthen financial stability. They will also work one-on-one with a business advisor who will accompany them throughout their journey.
“Hopefully in three to five years they’ll be viable enough to move into their own brick-and-mortar business and then we’ll get into new ventures,” Martorell said.
“I think we’re going to look back on those years and see how it spawned a whole new generation of business owners,” Schiff said.
It’s a chance to chase their part of the American dream with a business that they own.
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