In recognition of the unique Asian businesses and other cultural institutions along University Avenue in St. Paul from Galtier to Mackubin streets, the area is being branded as
It’s an initiative that the local Asian Economic Development Association
(AEDA) launched on Feb. 25.
The name references the Mekong River, which is a major river in Southeast Asia, according to Va-Megn Thoj, who heads the AEDA. “Most businesses in the area have a connection to the river,” he explains.
In his view, “By giving a name to a destination which has existed for a long time, we can draw more people into the area.” This is especially needed during Central Corridor
light rail construction, he says.
Already, as a result of construction obstacles, many of the businesses are seeing less foot traffic, he says.
With the Little Mekong branding, “We want to build on what we have,” which he describes as “an attractive destination for people to get introduced to Asian cultures and cuisine.” Although the district has been around informally for a long time, not too many people are familiar with it, he says.
Besides improving the streetscape and putting up district-related signage, Little Mekong will host a number of events, including family-friendly festivals.
AEDA is also working with businesses to create incentive programs to bring in more customers, including coupons and other deals, and to handle increased traffic. “We’re working with businesses to strengthen their operations and customer service,” he says.
The coming Central Corridor represents “a tremendous opportunity to create something of benefit to the neighborhoods and city and region," he adds.
Source: Va-Megn Thoj
Writer: Anna Pratt