When I saw this story this morning in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I jumped into it. I thought great! now some reporter is going to tell us where the money is coming from to set up all these specialized Somali shops (11 of them in one town) when the Somali population is under 2000 (max) in that featured town. No such luck! No one ever investigates that question!
If Americans cannot open and make profitable stores on main street America, where are the immigrants getting all that money?????
Here is the story about Minnesota, little Somalia:
Once the henna artist arrives, business will really take off, Yonis Hajisaid said.
One of downtown Willmar’s newest entrepreneurs, he owns the Nuura Shop, the latest Somali-owned business to open in downtown Willmar in the past five years.
The change from a barber shop to a henna and perfume parlor is a sign of how new immigrants are transforming business districts outstate just as they have along some main streets in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The vast majority of the 11 African-owned businesses in Willmar surveyed are stores; they sell everything from food to books to gifts to housewares. [the first one to open sold goat meat—ed]
….from 2005 to 2010, the number of ethnic-owned businesses in the Willmar area has jumped from 3 to 42.
Who are they kidding? Henna and perfume will pay the rent, the insurance, the workman’s comp., salaries etc.
They came to Willmar originally lured by meatpacking jobs (what else!):
Drawn to Willmar because of jobs at the Jennie-O meatpacking plants, a growing number of Somali immigrants are calling this west-central Minnesota town home and opening small businesses on the side.
The official count says 700 of Willmar’s 19,610 residents are originally from Somalia, but city officials and Somali community leaders say the real number is at least 2,000. The city’s Latino population has leveled off at 4,099 according to the latest U.S. census data.
In cities such as Rochester and Faribault, too, new immigrants have arrived, adding new flavors and customers to downtown areas.
“Main Streets in many smaller Minnesota communities have not fared so well the last 25 or 30 years,” said Bill Blazar, an executive at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “The growth of immigrant populations and the businesses that are a direct result really are a shot in the arm. They’re an economic development program.”
The changes have also created angst for some residents. [I’ll bet it has!–ed]
The African Development Center is responsible.
In a nod to the growing Somali presence in outstate communities, a Minneapolis-based agency that offers technical support to help African immigrants run their businesses has planted flags in Willmar and Rochester.
Yusuf Ahmed heads up the Willmar branch office of the African Development Center of Minnesota, which opened downtown last September. The building, painted a vivid green and orange, stands out among the red-bricked edifices surrounding it.
You can check out the African Development Center’s (ADC) website here where they have a pretty impressive list of financial backers. But, it does make you wonder if there is a special comparable loan agency called perhaps the Poor Americans Development Center helping regular old Americans open shops especially as we learn that the largest chunk of ADC funding comes from you! the taxpayer via government grants.
See their 2010 Form 990 here. Out of an income stream of $1.5 million that year, $841,000 came from you! (p. 9 govt. grants). They paid out over a half million in compensation to officers, salaries and other benefits.
Just get used to it!
Somali sidewalk conventions are here to stay….
One always has to read to the end of these giddy stories about immigrant success to find out that everything is not so rosy with the local folks. Another town experiencing a similar ‘renaissance’ in its downtown is Faribault.
Still, the new Faribault has been an adjustment for some residents.
“For a small town in southern Minnesota, to have this type of immigrant growth, it is a cultural shock to us a little bit,” Ross said. “It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just different.”
Large groups of Somali men tend to congregate at day’s end on downtown Faribault sidewalks, speaking Somali and often not moving out of the way for others walking by. The practice has annoyed and even intimidated some people in town, said Ross, who was prompted to write about the issue last week in a mass e-mail that was republished in the local newspaper.
“That’s the way they get together and exchange information,” he said of the Somali sidewalk conventions. “They get together and they really talk. We’re not used to seeing large groups congregating in public areas like that. We have to get used to how each other operates.”
So, you think the Shariah isn’t here already!
An afterthought! Wouldn’t it be funny for a white American guy to go to the African Development Council for help securing a business loan or just help to set up a business and see if you were turned away.