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At one time a Central American marketplace on Foster seemed a daring idea. No more!

DAVID F. ASHTON - In the Foster-Powell neighborhood, the Portland Mercado celebrated the fourth anniversary of its opening. In May of 2014, upon an abandoned used car lot in the Foster-Powell neighborhood at S.E. Foster Road and 72nd Avenue, Hacienda Community Development Corporation started a year-long effort to create what they named "Portland Mercado".

Since it officially opened on April 11, 2015, and through its entrepreneurship and cultural programs, the Portland Mercado has supported the launch and growth of over a hundred small businesses in Portland.

The success of the Portland Mercado was evident at the fiesta held on May 25.

"Today, we're celebrating the 'aniversario cuatro' – our fourth anniversary – of the transformation of this corner into a place where we're elevating small businesses by giving opportunities for Latinx entrepreneurs to succeed," smiled Portland Mercado Director Shea Flaherty-Betin.

"This year's theme, 'Dream 4 More', honors our community's challenges, successes, and unstoppable drive towards building better lives for those we love," Flaherty-Betin told THE BEE. "This is the Mercado's biggest annual event – where families, friends, and community come together to enjoy live music, drinks, art, and authentically diverse flavors."

The Mercado is more than just the food carts visible from Foster Road, Flaherty-Betin pointed out. "We have 19 businesses operating on-site; and another 70 businesses are making use of our affordable commercial kitchen here. And then, in our advising and mentoring program, as many as 60 businesses are receiving technical assistance!"

At the celebration, guests were enjoying Latinx food that Flaherty-Betin said can't be found anywhere else in Portland – including Puerto Rican, Cuban, Peruvian, Brazilian, and Columbian dishes, while listening to music and watching dance performances.

At a conservative estimate, based on sales alone, he told THE BEE that the Mercando's operations represent about $1 million a year economic impact. "We see this economic impact trickling back into the community with jobs, opportunities and the opportunity to have businesses.

"So that's why, today, we're having this day-long party to celebrate with our community, and share our culture with our neighborhood," Flaherty-Betin beamed.

Find out more about the Portland Mercado online – www.portlandmercado.org


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