Portland Mercado Asks—and Receives

It might seem odd that Portland, a city with 600,000 residents, ten percent of whom identify as hispanic or Latino, doesn’t have a single Latino public market to speak of. It certainly did to Hacienda Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that serves the Latino community in Portland by providing affordable housing, home ownership support, and opportunities for education and economic advancement.

Where Hacienda CDC saw a gap, they also saw an opportunity.

They started the Portland Mercado as an incubator for local businesses and community hub. Set to open this spring, the Mercado will bring the community together around food, art, and entertainment and provide affordable retail space for businesses to launch and grow. Jamie at Hacienda CDC says the Mercado’s prospects are bright. "The process of developing a physical place where cultures can come together and transform our social and economic landscape has already been a rewarding experience, and it's exciting to imagine how we will all be influenced by embracing and leveraging diversity to promote equity."

The Mercado needed to find a business that would sell locally and sustainably raised meat at the market, so Jamie posted an offer for the opportunity on the Portland Meat Collectives Switchboard. "We received a couple of good inquiries and got in touch with the founder, Camas Davis, who was open to sharing her extensive knowledge,” Jamie says. Thanks to the Meat Collectives Switchboard and the help of its founder, Camas, the Portland Mercado is one step closer to offering local meat.

Finding a variety of businesses to fill the space and participate in the incubator program has been a challenge, Jamie says. "Eventually, we have been able to find a combination of what we were looking for, but it definitely took awhile. Thankfully, the Switchboard helped us with the process.”

Switchboard works because, like the Mercado, it brings communities together to solve problems on their own terms. Our communities won't run out of obstacles anytime soon, but, with Switchboard, they rest safe knowing they can ask for help. "A development like this is new territory for Hacienda CDC, and we always have our challenges, but nothing that doesn't pass without a creative solution," Jamie says.