Oct. 8, 2019 8:00 am

Chinatown fosters an environment where small businesses can thrive

PCDC offers multilingual business workshops and other resources for the majority-immigrant community.

Last year's YeShi Night Market.

(Photo courtesy of PCDC)

If there’s any part of Philadelphia that thrives on small business, it’s Chinatown.

But for a mostly immigrant population where few speak English, it can sometimes be hard to open a successful business in a new place. That’s where the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation comes in.

“In Chinatown, a lot of people survive off of their small businesses,” said Lamei Zhang, the projects manager for PCDC. She added that oftentimes the language barrier shuts many out of free resources offered by the city.

“It’s important to get equal access to all the resources the city has to offer,” she said.

That’s why PCDC offers workshops for small business owners on topics like social media and grant writing workshops that bridge the language gap and foster community for newcomers.

Carol Wong from the Learning Center.

“It’s important to offer these kinds of classes, especially in our area,” Zhang said. “Many students are recent immigrants and may not have family or know the area well.”

Grantwriting workshops and one-on-one mentorship has helped new businesses like Dia Boutique, a traditional South Asian formalwear store, and Jade Harbor, a Chinese restaurant, both on Race street.

The Chinatown Learning Center, a bilingual preschool and after school program on Spring street, received the Minority Business Award from the city after receiving counseling from the PCDC.

Classes are taught by PCDC experts and occasionally outside sources, like the Community College of Philadelphia, which supported PCDC by teaching a social media workshop last May.

Outside of classes, PCDC supports the economy of the entirety of Chinatown by finding ways to bring in new visitors.

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In 2016, when the Chinese Lantern Festival came to Franklin Square for the first time, PCDC worked to redirect traffic to the center of Chinatown. PCDC also hosts annual cultural events and the YeShi Night Market — a nighttime block party that brings in about 20,000 visitors each year.

Zhang said these events are important because they continue to support businesses that got started through the PCDC and the district as a whole, which benefits the entire Chinatown community.

“We want to give those people as many resources as we can so we can build them up from there,” she added. “It’s important to help our residents with their upward mobility.”


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