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U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) joined members of Los Angeles’ Thai community on July 25 to celebrate the Thai Town Marketplace, a new public market and small business incubator scheduled to open this fall near Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue.
The Thai Town Marketplace has been 16 years in the making, having been originally conceived in 2006 by the Thai Community Development Center, known as the Thai CDC. After years of searching for funding sources, officials from the center said they have finally crossed the finish line thanks to $1 million in federal funds secured by Schiff in Congress’ $1.5 trillion 2022 omnibus appropriation bill. The marketplace is under construction at 5448 Hollywood Blvd., in a building above the Hollywood/Western subway station on Metro’s Red Line. The federal money will be used to complete construction and fund start-up costs. Schiff said it is important to help small businesses plant roots and thrive.
“Pursuing a lifelong dream like opening your own business requires a leap of faith that few of us are brave enough to take. But it also takes a considerable amount of resources, money and support from your local community, family and friends,” Schiff said. “And that’s why this project is so special. By giving these vendors an accessible entry point to take their talents, ambitions and ideas to the next level, the Thai CDC is going to nurture a whole new generation of local chefs, artists and artisans, as well as grow jobs and help our local community. This is exactly the type of project I wanted to support with these new federal dollars, because it’s going to do so much good here in East Hollywood, and bring immediate, tangible benefits to our community.”
The Thai Town Marketplace will be home to 18 new food and artisan goods makers, giving aspiring entrepreneurs space to grow their businesses. Plans call for each vendor to be at the site for approximately three years, allowing enough time for them to establish their business and build a customer base before moving to a permanent location in the community. The Thai CDC will help with management and resources for the small businesses, which will create up to 58 additional jobs. The marketplace is also an economic revitalization project that will attract customers and improve the neighborhood, Thai CDC executive director Chancee Martorell said.
“I wish to express our most heartfelt gratitude for this extraordinary investment in our community and in the lives, dreams and aspirations of Thai immigrant entrepreneurs who will launch their American dreams on the opening day of the Thai Town Marketplace,” Martorell added. “Thank you for your confidence in our community, in the strength, determination and resourcefulness of ordinary people, and in the power of dreams. Thank you once again for helping us make the Thai Town Marketplace a reality that will continue generating new businesses, jobs and economic growth for generations to come.”
Schiff toured the facility and spoke with Iririn Srirada and her daughter, Arada, who plan to open a Thai restaurant named Nua in the marketplace.
“For my family, this will be our first official store opening. In the future, I believe that it would definitely benefit us with the experience having an official store,” said Arada Srirada, adding that opening has been a long process. “It was very stressful because when the pandemic started, [construction of the marketplace project] slowed down … and [it] stopped the process. And at that moment, we were very stressed. But then once they notified us that it would be continuing, I just started to feel good again.”
Martorell said the project was funded through a variety of sources, including $892,200 from the city of Los Angeles under former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, $1.2 million from Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell’s office, $2 million in tax credits, $1 million from private sources and $1 million secured by Schiff. O’Farrell helped usher the project through the lengthy process of receiving city approvals and financing.
“I have championed the Thai Town Marketplace from the beginning, and my team and I have shepherded this project every step of the way, including identifying more than $2 million in funding,” O’Farrell said. “I ensured the city made such a significant contribution because I believe so strongly in the mission of the Thai Town Marketplace: to develop employment and business opportunities in a historically underserved community that contributes so much to our local culture. I am proud to represent Thai Town and am thrilled to see this hard work coming to fruition.”
“Hopefully, this will be an anchor for economic development and revitalization, and because it’s at the Western gateway of Thai Town, it will also make Thai Town a cultural destination,” Martorell added. “Because you have a very diverse community here, it could also be a hub for social integration with all the different ethnic communities here interacting with each other. We are very excited about the opening.”
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