Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis Requesting Financial Support

Updated: 11/27/2013 10:01 AM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough

It's known as the Midtown Global Market, located in Minneapolis at Lake Street.

But, the popular shopping destination is pushing to go local. The privately-owned non-profit is requesting a public help; money from the City of Minneapolis. The request is drawing support and skepticism.

Walking inside Midtown Global Market is like taking a quick trip around the world, "there's a lot of diversity and energy."

It's culturally unique and economically important, generating $10 million in annual sales. "We are working with members who come from low-income backgrounds, we are changing the lives of people," said market manager Earlesworth Letang.

That's by giving budding entrepreneurs, like Trung Pham, a chance. He wanted to start a business but didn't know how.

Enter, the Midtown Global Market. It's owned by two non-profit organizations that specialize in training start-ups. Pham owns Pham's Deli, "within 7.5 years, the market has been improving, growing employees."  

It's that development that is at risk, because the Midtown Global Market is running at a deficit.

It was a pet project for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak early in his tenure.

Although it's privately owned, he's asked for public dollars to help bankroll it, even as he leaves office. "This is a matter of helping somebody who's in deep trouble, this is a matter of when a business has done well for a time, you know it's gonna be around a long time, you want to lift the debt off so they can innovate and do great things," said Rybak.

Rybak is urging city council members to fund $185,000 in operational costs, $85,000 to subsidize parking and forgive $1.5 million in loans. 

At least two council members, Lisa Goodman and Meg Tuthill are skeptical of using public dollars to bail out a private non-profit organization.  

Market managers insist Midtown Global isn't in need of a rescue, just some relief. Midtown Global has reduced its annual deficit by one-third to $200,000. That's by raising rents and adding tenants.

Thirty-eight small businesses operate there, employing more than 200 people. It opened in 2006, and was modeled on Pikes Place in Seattle and Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.