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This festive Foster Road marketplace has thrived, and celebrated its third anniversary in April

DAVID F. ASHTON - Dining at the now-famous food carts at the Portland Mercado in the Foster-Powell neighborhood is just one of the activities during the third anniversary celebration. An area that was, for years, a used car lot, at S.E. 72nd Avenue and Foster Road, began its transformation into a cultural hub for numerous small businesses – the Portland Mercado – in May of 2014. It opened eleven months later – April 11, 2015.

The work had taken about a year to complete, but the Portland Mercado has been going strong ever since.

"Today we celebrate of the third year of the Portland Mercado," said Marketing & Event Coordinator Ambar Solarte, at the celebration fiesta on April 7. "This is a huge one-day celebration – with music, activities for the kids, and a lot of people coming and having fun!

"The Portland Mercado important because it is a hub, where people can meet, who come from different places across Latin America like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Columbia," Solarte said. "Even more, this is a place to learn about different cultures, as our slogan says, 'We are bridging cultures', we love being part of the Portland community."

As many as 50 businesses have operated from the Mercado so far, including 19 permanent businesses – bringing together diverse cultures through food, art, and entertainment.

"Food continues to be our main entrepreneurial thrust, because we have a commercially-licensed food preparation kitchen," Solarte told THE BEE.

Even more, the Mercado offers a "business incubator program" that provides new businesspeople with advice regarding finance, marketing, and licensing, to help them get a good start, she said. "People who shop at the Mercado are supporting the people who are working to make a better life for themselves and their families."

To learn more about the Portland Mercado, go online – www.portlandmercado.org

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