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Multicultural Market receives federal grant to help create jobs

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Area Multicultural Market has received a $234,422 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help small businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs.

WAMM is an economic development corporation serving the Willmar area.

Program Director Roberto Valdez said in a telephone interview Thursday that the grant is a major award for WAMM. It will help the organization develop new programs and expand its existing ones.

About $66,000 of the federal funding is earmarked for capital investment. Plans for capital improvements are still in the planning stages, he said.

WAMM will use some of the money to develop rental and office space for minority-owned small businesses, according to a release from WAMM.

The grant will also provide no-interest loans so that small businesses can expand and hire more workers.

With support from the Latino Economic Development Center in St. Paul, WAMM will provide technical assistance to business owners by providing classes in bookkeeping, how to write a business plan, marketing tactics and others.

WAMM currently operates the Minority Business Center on Fourth Street Southwest in downtown Willmar. The center provides individualized training in business plan development, marketing and tax assistance. The center houses the Kitchen Incubator, a licensed, shared commercial kitchen available for food carts and catering businesses to prepare their products.

"We have seen first-hand that small business development contributes to revitalizing the economy by creating jobs in low-income communities," he said. "This award enables us the opportunity of investing in individuals who aspire to the American dream. In return, WAMM hopes these individuals become socially responsible members of our community."

WAMM received support from the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders in submitting the application for the federal grant.

"As a national organization, it is our job to ensure that organizations like WAMM have the assistance to access the funding to continue this important work for rural America," Noel Poyo, executive director at NALCAB, said in the release.

For more information on WAMM, visit

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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