LEDC supports the community by nurturing strong, socially responsible businesses and citizens.
How It All Started
Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) is a membership, state wide, and ethnic based, non profit community develoment 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. 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 the 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 2017
GED en Español
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:
- Purchase study materials for our students.
- Subsidize the cost of practice tests and the official GED exams.
- Continue to encourage adult learners to get their GED regardless of language ability and immigration status.
- Increase the frequency of our class sessions from 2 days a week to 4.
- Provided students with free GED text books and practice tests.
The Latino Scholarship Fund
Every year LEDC gives away between 5 and 12 high school seniors scholarships of between $1,500 and $4,200. With your support, LEDC can:
- Increase the frequency and quantity of the LSF scholarship.
- Continue to encourage young people to enroll in college regardless of immigration status.
- Increase the quantity of each LSF scholarship.
- Start awarding multi-year scholarships.
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:
- Cut down wait times for technical assistance.
- Offer specialized group training such as bidding and estimating for construction entrepreneurs.
- Organize events like Cara a Cara con Los Expertos, to give Latino entrepreneurs access to business experts.
- Translate and distribute information on rules, regulations, and ordinances not available in Spanish.
- Continue to facilitate entrepreneurship regardless of language ability and immigration status.
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:
- Increase the frequency of classes.
- Provide 1-on-1 tutoring.
- Translate and create new and better class materials.
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:
- Find entry level, internship, and volunteer opportunities with hospitals, schools, and private companies.
- Find partner employers who can accommodate Spanish-speaking professionals in their field while they learn English.
- Provide resume assistance.
- Translate and create informational materials about foreign credential validation.
LEDC loaned $63,000 to projects in Long Prairie, Saint Cloud, and Mankato in 2014. We have coached start-ups in Austin, Owatonna, Faribault, Saint James, and Saint Cloud. We have brought together agricultural co-ops like Agua Gorda with