Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) is a membership, state wide, and ethnic based, nonprofit community development organization. It began in the 1990's as the outgrowth of social justice work in south Minneapolis by a group of Latino immigrants, who founded the first Catholic congregation with bilingual services in the area (Sagrado Corazon).
Although struggling to support their families with low-paying jobs, they had high aspirations for their futures in America and the contributions they could make to the well-being of the community. One of the first successes of this movement was the creation of Cooperative Mercado Central, a vibrant, flourishing marketplace anchoring the corner of Lake and Bloomington in Minneapolis. This area had long suffered high criminal activity.
After the opening of Mercado Central in 1999, its founders implemented the first economic forum at Sacred Heart church in East St. Paul and formed a partnership of several nonprofits that culminated with Plaza Latina, located at the corner of Sims and Payne Ave. Additionally, LEDC has initiated, and participated as co-developer and co-owner on projects such as Plaza Verde and Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Today, such areas are drawing shoppers and diners from all over the metro area.
This movement has revitalized not only the largest commercial corridor in the state, but it has also encouraged others to open successful businesses throughout greater MN. Members of LEDC believe in creating strong, sustainable and socially responsible businesses; supporting businesses, and encouraging our communities and leaders to take pro-business approaches, by promoting business growth as a tool to solve other social problems.
What We Do in 2016
LEDC offers Minnesota's only Spanish-language GED prep course. In Saint Paul and Minneapolis, many Spanish-speakers are unaware that the GED exams are available in Spanish. Typical adult education programs require GED students to first become fluent in English before beginning their programs. With your support, LEDC can:
The Latino Scholarship Fund Every year LEDC gives away between 5 and 8 high school seniors scholarships of between $1,500 and $3,000. With your support, LEDC can:
Loans to Small Latino and Immigrant Owned Businesses The biggest barrier Latino immigrants face to opening a business is financing. We provide loans to businesses that get turned down by traditional banks. We couple this with technical assistance available in Spanish and English. With your support we can:
Computer and English Classes The biggest barrier Latino immigrants face to finding employment is a lack of English and computer skills. We are one of only a handful of organizations that provide Spanish-language computer classes. With your support we can:
Employment for Immigrant Professionals Nurses, doctors, lawyers, teachers, translators, scientists, childcare workers: all of these are careers that our job seekers have studied abroad. In the United States, language and a lack of a professional network often hold these professionals back. With your support we can: