The Thai Town Marketplace: Making an Impact Through Food, People and Place
LA2050 will fund the Thai Town Marketplace (TTMP), a new approach to urban revitalization and an innovative “green” community market. Creating the first “Health/Wealth Zone”, the TTMP will deliberately link health and economic outcomes, help low-income residents start their first business, create 18 businesses every three years and over 60 jobs, teach vendors financial and health literacy, host monthly health and information booths for visitors at our nearby farmers’ market, and make local organizations’ social services more accessible.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
East Hollywood is home to Thai Town, a port of entry for newly-arrived Thai immigrants. In the area, many residents lack job skills and face chronic unemployment. The unemployment rate and the rate of residents living below the poverty line is more than twice the national average. Two-thirds of residents are low-income. The lack of living wage jobs and proliferation of low wage jobs provides few opportunities to achieve economic mobility. Furthermore, the Limited English Proficient and undocumented populations which Thai CDC serves often have difficulty accessing critical resources necessary for successful integration in a new country. Many Thai residents are concentrated in two industries as workers and business owners—restaurants and massage businesses/spas. These small businesses are operating on the margins and their low wage workers are underemployed. Moreover, East Hollywood is undergoing severe gentrification as residents are facing increased difficulty paying the rising rents.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
In an East Hollywood community needs assessment, 78% of respondents remarked that a public market was important for the community. To provide an economic incubator for low-income entrepreneurs, we created the Thai Town Marketplace. The TTMP will revitalize the area and create the first “Health/Wealth Zone”, linking health and economic outcomes by helping low-income residents start their first business, creating over 60 jobs, teaching vendors financial and health literacy, hosting monthly health and information booths for the public at our adjacent farmers’ market, making local organizations’ social services more accessible, and increasing access to healthy foods by enrolling individuals into public benefits programs. The Hollywood/Western Metro Redline Stop area will be a “one-stop” destination for critical resources. The TTMP will provide 18 business start-up opportunities to low-income entrepreneurs, produce at least 38 permanent living-wage jobs, 20 temporary construction-related jobs, and 18 new businesses each business cycle. Entrepreneurs and workers will receive workplace support and will be paid a living wage; all entrepreneurs will fall within 200% of the federal poverty level a year before the market grand opening. The TTMP is a community-centered means of combating gentrification and increasing job opportunities and economic mobility, boosting our local economy, ensuring development without displacement, and protecting our neighborhood’s cultural diversity.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
The TTMP will improve the built environment, create community cohesion and unity around a public space, promote neighborhood pride and help low-income individuals achieve self-sufficiency, upward mobility and economic empowerment through business ownership and permanent employment. The TTMP will greatly increase entrepreneurs’ and workers’ potential earnings, generate new businesses and jobs, combat financial dependency and chronic unemployment, reduce poverty, and increase access to fresh foods through our public benefits enrollment programs. Purchase agreements between our East Hollywood Certified Farmers’ Market farmers and TTMP vendors will boost the local economy and ensure that revenue is kept within our community. We hope that the TTMP will be a model for other immigrant neighborhoods facing high unemployment and gentrification. Overall, the TTMP will transform Thai Town into a vibrant and inclusive destination for families, businesses and visitors for generations to come.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We are measuring the TTMP’s impact by the number of new businesses and jobs created, the jobs sustained, families enrolled into FMNP and CalFresh/EBT, and the overall increased economic wellbeing of our entrepreneurs and workers. According to the “Small Business Incubator Network Feasibility Study” by Stacy and Associates, every 50 jobs created by an incubator client generates another 25 jobs in the community. Thus, the 40 incubator jobs we generate should create over 20 jobs in East Hollywood. Because the businesses will eventually establish their own brick and mortar locations, the TTMP will also have a multiplier effect, creating 18 new businesses each cycle and an additional 36 jobs every three years. Serving Thai immigrant entrepreneurs for the past twenty-eight years, we have seen the difficulty that Thai Town’s high rents have caused. Offering immigrant entrepreneurs their own low-rent incubator space will create a widespread positive economic effect in the Thai Town community.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 70
Indirect Impact: 40,000