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Community Renewal Good Stories - El Paso

Opportunity Fund Carves Shopping Mall From Large Downtown Store

El Paso, Texas, EZ

The El Paso EZ's Border Opportunity Fund helped make it possible for a long-time El Paso retailer to retain a retail presence in a historic downtown store while subdividing some of the space to create affordable main street storefronts for microenterprises.

Thanks to a low-interest, 10-year construction loan of $197,000 secured by real estate, Mark Rosen, Inc., took the large Texas Store at Mesa and Overland Streets in downtown El Paso and subdivided part of it into smaller spaces. Rosen's grandfather, Marcus Rosen, founded the Texas Store in El Paso in the 1930s. Beginning in 1931 with the Popular Dry Goods Company in Las Cruses, New Mexico, the Rosen family has established a regional chain of clothing and piece goods stores under the Popular and Texas Store names.

The 2003 EZ funding for the Mesa Street Development covered costs of a new roof, asbestos removal, seven new bathrooms, and additional parking facilities. The project created five separate rental retail spaces with prime locations on Mesa Street.

Retailers in the development now include a men's and a women's shoe store, a sports shoes store, a financial services company, a general merchandiser, and a seamstress who rents out party equipment and sews for weddings and the traditional Hispanic quinseanera (a coming out party for teenage girls).

The Border Opportunity Fund helps address the financial needs of businesses that have not been adequately served by traditional lending institutions. Loans from this fund feature competitive interest rates to businesses in the El Paso EZ to help facilitate expansion projects in an area with traditionally minimal access to business capital.

For more information on the programs of the El Paso EZ, please contact Empowerment Zone Coordinator Isela Robison at (915) 541-4629.