New directory shows growth of Willmar's Latino, Somali businessesby Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio
Willmar, Minn. — A bilingual newspaper in Willmar has launched a new directory of Latino and Somali-owned businesses in Kandiyohi County.
The newspaper, La Gran America, is collaborating with the local nonprofit Willmar Area Multicultural Market, or WAMM. The monthly directory will list nearly 35 businesses.
Roberto Valdez Jr., the director of WAMM, said the goal is to increase people's knowledge of these ethnic businesses. He said a section of the paper will also include a profile of a business owner.
"The other half of the page is beneficial to us because we're highlighting the story, the life behind the people who own these businesses," Valdez said. "People don't know that a lot of these people are highly educated, have never owned a business in their life, but they're living out the American dream."
Most of them are concentrated in Willmar, with a population of 19,000, which is becoming more ethnically diverse.
"Maybe 10 years ago we started with basics, you know, retail, food establishments/restaurants," Valdez said. "We moved into services: insurance, for example. And now we're even seeing professional services, such as legal services. I think we have two-three attorneys who are Latino in the area and maybe one doctor."
Valdez said the businesses include legal, medical and insurance services.