Member Spotlight: Neighborhood Development Center | Welcoming America

Building Neighborhood Ecomonies from Within

Member Spotlight: Neighborhood Development Center


The Neighborhood Development Center in Minnesota revitalizes distressed communities by empowering local entrepreneurs to invest in their own neighborhoods. 

This Welcoming Economies Global Network member has trained at least 5,000 potential business owners and currently support over 600 businesses. The entrepreneurs they have assisted have created over 2,285 jobs and returned over $46 million annually to their own inner-city neighborhoods through rent, business expenses, payroll, taxes, and payments to subcontractors. 

Local Impact

“It’s very important to have community support like NDC,” says Becky Xiong, standing in the middle of PAJAI, her fruit arrangements and bakery business in St. Paul, Minnesota. Slices of pandan sponge cake fill the glass display case. Large photos of her elaborate fruit carvings dot the wall. “If I need something, they’re always there to help. NDC, it’s like my backbone.”

Her work is popular with Hmong-Americans, who order tables full of sculpted fruit for presentations and parties. 

PAJAI is just one of the hundreds of immigrant-owned businesses to get a boost from the city’s Neighborhood Development Center. NDC’s goal is to revitalize distressed communities. And it achieves that by empowering aspiring entrepreneurs. 

“It’s very much a ripple effect strategy,” says Mihailo Temali, founder and CEO of the non-profit organization. “Neighborhoods really matter to people. Strong neighborhoods need strong businesses.” 

Read more about NDC's local impact 

Boxing and ballet

From Taiwanese kickboxers to Cubans looking for a spin class to 300 ballet dancers, Element Boxing & Fitness and St. Paul Ballet’s shared gym is a place where people share their lives and passions, perfect their uppercuts or arabesques, and, most importantly, feel accepted and welcomed.

But it didn’t just happen that way. Dalton Outlaw, Owner of Element, and Lori Gleason, Executive Director of St. Paul Ballet, worked hard to create this inclusive, multicultural community in Minnesota. The two made it their mission to reach out to new Americans and break down fear among their fellow long-term community members.

“A lot of people will set up an organization and have one demographic. When somebody else, like an immigrant, comes in, that person doesn’t feel comfortable,” says Dalton. “Whether you're an immigrant, whether you're a long-term citizen, it doesn't matter here.”

Read about Dalton and Lori's vision for inclusion

Moroccan Flavors

Hassan Ziadi studied culinary arts in Europe. He worked in the kitchens of five-star establishments. And the emir of Qatar chose him to launch a restaurant in one of the country’s boutique hotels. 

Today, the native of Morocco is serving up his homeland’s traditional cuisine in Minnesota. Hassan is the executive chef and owner of Moroccan Flavors, a Twin Cities restaurant that, only a few years ago, seemed like an impossibility.

Read about Hassan’s journey

Eastlake Revitalized

Two decades ago, East Lake Street was a haze of shuttered storefronts and boarded-up buildings. The Minneapolis thoroughfare was essentially a path to prostitution and drug dealing. 

“The neighborhood was in trouble,” says Twin Cities community leader Juan Linares. “Businesses didn’t have enough customers. But customers were afraid of coming to this area.” 

Today, East Lake Street is a bustling 4-mile-stretch of independent businesses, many adorned with brightly colored murals.  When it comes to the area’s transformation, most of the thanks goes to Latin-American immigrants.

Read more about the transformation

“Being a member of the Welcoming Economies Global Network has helped us build relationships with other organizations that work with immigrant business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs. These relationships have created a peer learning effect, where we learn from each other and can provide even better services.”

– Mihailo Temali, executive director of Neighborhood Development Center  

By the numbers

Businesses supported by NDC
People employed by NDC-trained entrepreneurs
$46 million
Returned to local neighborhood economies each year

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