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Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium (MMMC) Forum

Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium (MMMC) Forum

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Published by Al McFarlane

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Published by: Al McFarlane on Nov 01, 2010
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11/01/2010

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T
he special broadcast originated at the CentennialShowboat at Harriet Island and featured live music byWain McFarlane & Jahz, and networking before theshow. Riverfront Economic Development Association(REDA), the powerful business support and promotion organi-zation that serves St. Paul’s West Side community, and theMinority Business Development and Retention division of St.Paul’s new Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity(HREEO) Department, and Twin Cities Local InitiativeSupport Corporation (LISC) co-sponsored the forum broad-cast.The first of its kind broadcast program also reflected the emer-gence of a unique multi ethnic and multi-media platform forexamining and promoting business and economic developmentin communities of color. Minnesota Multicultural MediaConsortium (MMMC) editors and American Indian businessdevelopment executives joined broadcast host Al McFarlane inmeet-the-press style interviews of city department heads, com-munity development strategists and banking industry leaders.
Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium leaders and St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman at broadcast from Centennial Showboat. L-R: TomGitta, publisher, Mshale Newspaper; David Glass, president, American Indian Economic Development Fund; St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman;Nghi Huynh, publisher, Asian American Press and president of MN Multicultural Media Consortium; Al McFarlane, editor–in–chief, InsightNews and host of Conversations with Al McFarlane; Aldolpho Cardona, publisher, Latino Midwest.
Partnerships create resiliency, growth
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman last week affirmed the city’s commitment to do right bycommunities of color, small businesses, women-owned businesses and other disadvan-taged businesses through restructuring city government to create new ways to do busi-ness with the City of St. Paul.
Story by Al McFarlane • Photos by Suluki Fardan
McFarlaneFord ReaderOctober 26, 2009
 
Coleman welcomed the nearly 100-member audience and gave particularthanks to Christopher Romano, execu-tive director of REDA. “It’s alwaysgood to have neighborhood economicdevelopment partners at the tablebecause they really know what is goingon in the community,” he said.While it is appropriate to discuss howbusinesses navigate challenging eco-nomic times, Coleman said the empha-sis should be on the “season of oppor-tunity” now at hand in St. Paul.“Everyone knows about the $1 billionof investment that will occur along theUniversity transit corridor. But thereare other opportunities occurring acrossthe city on the West side, on theEastside, on the North End and onPayne Avenue and Arcade Street,” hesaid.Coleman said the City of St. Paul mustensure that minority- and women-owned and disadvantaged business arepart of the opportunity.“I think we’re doing our part,” he said.“Four years ago when I took office werealized we were not properly organ-ized or focused to make sure that wewere providing opportunities for all of our citizens and business owners. CityAttorney John Choi, acting on recom-mendations of a formal audit of St. Paulefforts to ensure inclusiveness, askedpeople what they needed. He made rec-ommendations for changes we neededto go forward. We made a very dramat-ic change in opening up the Departmentof Human Rights and Equal EconomicOpportunity. We created a new way of doing business. We are making surethat people can succeed and that asminority-owned businesses andwomen-owned and disadvantagedfirms, you have the resources you needto be successful.“We’re figuring out where we can part-ner with people. We have new loan pro-grams. Alot of people are travelinglight right now. They’re fearful aboutthe recession,” Coleman said. “We areasking what we need to do to assurethose businesses that are struggling. Sowe can drive business in that direction.These are things we can do and willcontinue to do. We need to hear fromall of you. What are the things that youwant us to do that were not doing. Howcan we continue to restructure andorganize to create opportunity?“This is not just a morally right thing todo, but it’s economically the right thingto do as well. When we invest in busi-nesses, those dollars turn over againand again and again in our own com-munity. When we support our smallbusinesses, we stabilize our neighbor-hoods,” Mayor Coleman said.Chris Romano is executive director of Riverview Economic DevelopmentAssociation (REDA) the only commu-nity development corporation (CDC)doing development work on SaintPaul’s Westside.Romano hosted business and civicleaders at the October 13th taping of the Conversations with Al McFarlanepublic policy broadcast. The broadcastairs 11am Tuesday, October 27, onKFAI FM 90.2 in Minneapolis and106.3 in St. Paul. The program originat-ed at the historic Centennial Showboatat Harriet Island and featured network-
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L-R David Glass, president, American Indian Economic Development Fund; Nghi Huynh, publisher, Asian American Press and president of MNMulticultural Media Consortium; Aldolpho Cardona, publisher, Latino Midwest; and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
 
ing and live music by Wain McFarlane& Jahz. The program promotedengagement, opportunity, awarenessand support for minority, women andsmall business development.Romano said REDAserves two func-tions for the Westside community.REDAis a business association, a minichamber of commerce with over 100members. “We hold training and net-working sessions. We provide loans.Secondly we have a community devel-opment corporation function. Ourresponsibility is to ensure Westsiderevitalizes in the best way possible,from a business and community per-spective, he said.“This is a difficult time, but also thetime of great opportunity. District DelSol has more vacancies than everbefore, more than at any time in the lasteight years that I’ve been here,” hesaid. “But on the other hand, it is atime of opportunity. For small businessowners that want to expand or get intobusiness, today is a very good time todo that.”“REDAand the City of St. Paul arebringing many tools to those business-es to help them succeed. Our toolsincluded loan and grant programs. Youtypically hear in the media that thereare no loans available right now. Youhear that businesses are sufferingbecause they don’t have the capital toexpand or to cover their cash flowneeds. But that couldn’t be furtherfrom the truth in our community.”Romano said, “One of my goals is tomake sure that that message getsacross. There are community bankershere today and there are folks at CityHall here. And we have resources.”“If you own a small business on theWestside and if you need money toexpand your business to buy additionalmachinery and to be successful we canprovide those funds. We do that In con-nection with community banks and thecity of St. Paul,” he said.Romano said REDAalso providessmall business grants. “One of the nicethings about a grant is that you don’thave to pay it back.” He said the grantsare for façade improvements, like sig-nage, windows, and entryways, thingsthat improve the look of the business.The grants require a 1 to 1 match witha limit of $5,000 from the grant. So aproject could cost up to $10,000 withthe business providing half of the proj-ect cost.Romano said this is a particularly excit-ing time because of the federal stimulusprograms. “We are still trying to figureout how old gold funds work togetherand how we can get the money down toour neighborhood businesses. But Ithink we will be able to figure out howto do that in conjunction with city andstate government.”Romano praised St. Paul Mayor ChrisColeman’s leadership in support of theneighborhood business associations.“To have the mayor of our city comehere and spend time with us shows the
“This is a difficult time, but also the timeof great opportunity. District Del Sol hasmore vacancies than ever before, morethan at any time in the last eight yearsthat I’ve been here.”
Chris Romano
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 Tom Gitaa, publisher, Mshale Newspaper 

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