Financing the American Dream

  • A new business owner learns the ropes

  • from a Minneapolis CDFI.

Manny González moved to Minnesota in the 1980s with two big dreams: to learn English and to own his own restaurant.

He realized the first one relatively quickly. Then―in 1998― he saw a way forward on the second when he read about an innovative project sponsored by the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC): the Cooperativa Mercado Central. The new market had space for five food businesses, and Manny saw his chance. He enrolled in NDC’s 16-week entrepreneur-training program, where he developed a business plan for what would become Manny’s Tortas, a shop that specializes in hearty Mexican sandwiches.

Today the business is a Minneapolis success story, with locations at both the Mercado Central and another market as well as a regular booth at the Minnesota State Fair. He and his business partner―his sister Vicki―employ a total of 12 people. 

Manny says the support he got from Neighborhood Development Center was crucial.

  • “They take you by the hand and say, OK, this is how
  • you’re supposed to get into the program, get loans,
  • get permits, I knew about food, but
  • the business aspect is totally different,
  • and NDC helps you with that." - Manny González
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