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Latino Reflections on Lake Street

Interview by Alexandra Renken, university of Minnesota Student of Joyce Wisdom, Executive Director of Lake Street Council What broad transformations have you seen occur with Latino businesses on Lake Street (as a result of Lake Street resurfacing, city ordinances, etc.)? Just to be clear, it was not a resurfacing road project, but a once-every-50-years project that included replacing water, gas and electrical lines beneath the street. The street was dug out to the bottom, removing old cobblestones and rail track that had been buried for decades. While Lake Street was always open one-lane in each direction, there was no parking and huge holes to traverse from one side of the road to the other. Ethnic businesses of all kinds fared better than most others during our recent road construction because of their customer loyalty. That held true for Ingebretsen”'s Scandinavian customers as well as Saigon Garage”'s Southeast Asian customers, but perhaps not so strongly for the Mercado and other Lake Street Latino businesses. Since road construction, business has improved despite the recession. Unfortunately, now the cost of doing business has risen and all businesses, but especially many of our Latino businesses, are finding it harder to increase their revenue to match the increased expenses. Regarding City ordinances and fees, Lake Street Council has worked diligently with City staff and elected officials to change City ordinances that negatively impact our small business community and especially our Latino and other ethnic businesses. One example is hours of operation. Several of our Latino eateries have applied for variances to serve their 24 hour clientele. Not everyone works a 9 to 5 job. Another is our support of businesses like El Nuevo Rodeo and La Vina. Dance and social halls have been mainstays of every new immigrant”'s experience, going back to Scandinavian, Greek, German and every other major immigration to Minneapolis. Why [...]

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