Economic Justice Monitoring Project

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Economic Justice Monitoring Project

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The Central Corridor also known as the Green Line stretching between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul crossing University of Minnesota covers 11 miles area with many businesses and residential houses. The Green Line is expected to make commuting easier to support the development of the Twin cities. With a long stretch through busy area, the light rail construction is making a big and direct impact on people and businesses. Since the light rail construction took place in early 2012, the businesses along University Ave have encountered many difficulties. Among those businesses, small businesses experience the most impact. The impact is measured not only by how many businesses are open or close but also the revenue, the amount of customers as well as human and social impact. The research picks Little Mekong area to study CCLRT's impacts on small businesses and the owners of those businesses. Little Mekong, a 5 block strip of University Avenue from MacKubin Street to Galtier Street in Saint Paul, Minnesota is a newly established business and cultural district. It is known as a destination for Asian cultures, authentic food and shopping. As an initiative of Asian Economic Development Association, Little Mekong mission is to develop the area at University Avenue and Western as an attractive destination for visitors and residents; to support and promote businesses during light rail construction; to share cultural traditions and activities; and to create a living, breathing, colorful district for all to enjoy. Little Mekong includes hundreds of businesses with different services such as restaurants, financial services, health services, etc. Despite different types of services, Little Mekong's businesses share many things in common as most of them are family owned businesses. They are all small businesses run by family members, who mainly are immigrants from Southeast Asian countries. Businesses for them are a way to support families and the future of the next generation. Also, with a wide variety of ethnicities and different languages spoken, the outreach activities and getting update information about the light rail construction encounter many difficulties. The research takes two businesses, Mai village and M.A.I Spine, as examples to conduct face to face interview with the owners about financial, human and social impacts of the CCLRT on the owners and their businesses. By using story telling style, the research focus on portraying the images of not only these two businesses but also the images of the owners as immigrants and how they have overcome many difficulties in order to start and maintain the businesses. At the same time, the researches emphasizes the other aspects of CCLRT's impacts that might be underestimate such as human and social impact on business owners and the community. Mai Village and M.A.I Spine are chosen for this research because of the similarity and uniqueness in the stories of immigrants as well as the difficulties that the owners suffer from the light rail construction. Mai village is one of the biggest and most famous restaurants in the neighborhood. Having been around for more than 20 years, Mai village has never experienced any severe difficulties as the construction brings to the restaurant. M.A.I Spine is one of the rare health services in chiropractic with expensive equipment such as MRI machine, which experiences a lot of impacts coming from the light rail construction. Both these two businesses have played an important role in shaping the neighborhood and supporting the community. Due to the construction impacts, Mai village is now facing their foreclosure and M.A.I Spine has thought about moving the location. Besides the loss of revenue, the owners and employees also experience health impact. With the businesses going down, it's also difficulty for businesses to give back and support the community. The stories of Mai village and M.A.I Spine are not individual but many other small businesses along University Ave are experiencing similar impacts from the CCLRT project.

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Prepared for the Asian Economic Development Association with funding from a Communiversity Personnel Grant from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), University of Minnesota..

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Ngyuen, Thao Phuony. (2012). Economic Justice Monitoring Project. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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