Lomax Campbell, director of community wealth for the City of Rochester, speaks during a Feb. 24 community meeting regarding La Marketa at the International Plaza. Lomax Campbell, director of community wealth for the City of Rochester, speaks during a Feb. 24 community meeting regarding La Marketa at the International Plaza. (EMC photo by John Haeger)

Rochester’s La Marketa offers entrepreneurial opportunities

ROCHESTER — City officials met with residents during a community meeting last month to discuss upcoming business opportunities and resources available to support potential vendors at La Marketa at the International Plaza.

La Marketa is a city initiative to develop and construct a new Latin-themed event space and marketplace on North Clinton Avenue. According to Miguel Meléndez, director of special projects at Ibero-American Action League, the project is on track, and its anticipated opening is the fall of 2020. The market will include a variety of vendors and vending options, he said, ranging from pop-up tents and carts to more permanent locations housed in shipping containers remodeled into retail kiosks.

James Farr, assistant director of recreation for the City of Rochester, said during the Feb. 24 community meeting that at first there will be three 8-by-20-foot kiosks with power, which will be open seasonally and sell general merchandise. Later, he noted, there will be two 16-by-20-foot kiosks that will have water plus other utilities and be open year round. Farr said that one of the larger kiosks will be suited for on-site food prepping. Applications for renting the kiosks will be available next month, he added.

Farr said that La Marketa operation hours will vary by day — Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. — in addition to certain weekends and holidays. The space also will include a performance pavilion, dedicated restrooms and a service/storage building, he added.

The vision for the site came from the community and grew from grassroot efforts, Meléndez said during the community meeting, noting that the purpose of La Marketa is to show the viability of the neighborhood. The project will bring economic opportunities to residents living in the area, he added.

To make these opportunities possible, the Rochester Economic Development Corp. and the City of Rochester’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development are offering a variety of grant and loan support for both existing and new business ventures.

“We are offering these grants in order to assist individuals who are looking to start or expand a business at this site, but may need assistance in covering some of the initial costs,” Erica Hernández, senior economic development specialist for the NBD, told El Mensajero Católico.

The grants are being made possible through both federal and city economic development funds, Hernández said.

“One of La Marketa’s project goals is to help serve as an incubator for those starting out in the world of business. These grants help provide a low-cost point of entry, decreasing the level of risk they take on,” she said.

La Marketa will provide community members with flexible and affordable vending options, Hernández said. Single 10-by-10-foot tent spaces with power will start at $15 per day, and three smaller kiosks will range from $1,300 to $1,500 per season. The total number of vendors will range from 30 to 50 individuals.

“These market models are tackling issues like barriers to business, cost of entry, economic opportunity, social innovation and entrepreneurship, job creation, cultural relevance, and building social and economic value,” said Hernández. “Cycling money through and bringing money to the community are issues we are addressing through (La Marketa).”

According to Hernández, available financial assistance for La Marketa consists of $5,000 working capital grants for the seasonal kiosks, $10,000 working capital grants for the year-round kiosks and small-business matching grants available to all vendors. The applications will be made available in the near future, she noted.

Providing small-business support for La Marketa will be the two-person team of Yolanda Robinson and Lomax Campbell, director of community wealth for the City of Rochester.

According to Campbell, the team will help guide people through the phases of starting up and maintaining businesses, and also will offer technical assistance and small-business coaching along with help in locating forms and additional resources.

A variety of workshops about entrepreneurship, financial planning and marketing also will be offered, and Campbell said a schedule will be available in the spring.

While many residents at the meeting expressed interest in having businesses at La Marketa, almost all brought up the question of security at the site.

Meléndez told residents that security efforts are being nailed down. He noted that a grant received by Ibero-American Action League will provide funding for Rochester Police Department walking beats in the area. The walking beats will consist of seven to 11 RPD officers patrolling the area from Clifford Avenue through Upper Falls Boulevard.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about La Marketa at the International Plaza, visit www.cityofrochester.gov/LaMarketa.

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