Fargo-Moorhead’s Immigrant Development Center creates economic opportunities for new Americans

For more than 15 years, the Immigrant Development Center of Fargo-Moorhead (IDC) has been helping new Americans gain a foothold in the local business community.

IDC Executive Director Fowzia Adde will present on the organization’s work at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, February 13.

Among the IDC’s major achievements is the International Market Plaza in Fargo, which hosts a variety of immigrant-run shops and food vendors. The plaza was established through a combination of efforts and funding sources, local and federal, with help from the Neighborhood Development Center and the Mid-Minnesota Development Center.

“It’s like the global market, but in smaller scale,” Adde said, referring to the Twin Cities’ Midtown Global Market in comparison.

Per the IDC’s website, the International Market Plaza creates opportunity for 57 new full-time jobs total.

“We have up to 23 tenants… it’s 46 jobs created so far,” Adde said. (Each business in the plaza each supports two employees.)

More than simply offering jobs, the plaza also provides a space where new Americans can learn the ropes of business ownership.

“It’s affordable spaces for new Americans,” Adde said. “It’s also a learning grounds.”

One challenge Adde said the IDC contends with is its relative distance from both the center of North Dakota’s government in Bismarck and from the center of Minnesota’s government in St. Paul. “We are serving both sides of the river,” Adde said, and they must navigate the different policies of each state’s government in their work.

With time, the IDC have grown fairly adept at managing the challenging task of keeping a community organization adequately funded. “Our organization brought a lot of money to our community that was never seen before,” Adde said.

The IDC’s success in this regard makes it a potentially good example for other, similar organizations to follow.

“We know the road we went through,” Adde said, “and they can learn.”

During her presentation at 1 Million Cups, Adde will offer profiles of a few of the businesses the IDC has helped find success through their aid and loans, including SCS Snow Removal and Ermina’s Cleaning, the latter of which was the first loan the IDC granted to start a business, in the amount of $5,000.

“I will focus on both the organization and the human side of it,” Adde said.

For more information on the Immigrant Development Center, visit http://www.idcfm.org. 1 Million Cups Fargo takes place each Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.

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Austin Gerth