AAPI Small Business Expo Kicks Off In St. Paul Saturday

13 May 2022

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – May is Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage month and dozens of area businesses are coming together this weekend for the first AAPI Small business expo.

More than 70 Asian-owned and supported businesses will take part in the expo at Metro State University in St. Paul. The event is hosted by the Minnesota Hmong Chamber of Commerce and its partners including the Hmong American Partnership.

HAP’s CEO, May yer Thao said while many businesses have struggled during the pandemic, Asian businesses have faced even greater hardship because of the rise in anti-Asian hate not just around the country, but in Minnesota as well.

This expo comes at an important time when many Asian businesses have only started to reopen in the latter half of 2021.

Thao said now is the time to come together and show support.

“We now know, this is the time and if we don’t take advantage of this time, in which our community has been so targeted, so wrongly in the last couple of years, but also it’s a time where our country as a whole has reached its most heightened awareness of racial inequities, racial injustices and so we need to take this moment to really bring that visibility forth and have that appreciation for all of our communities,” Thao said.

Pangea World Theatre in Minneapolis has been fighting for social justice and equality through its plays, productions and community programs since it first opened its doors in 1995.

It’s one of the businesses taking part in the expo and leaders said the event is a way to celebrate diversity and build community.

“I think there needs to be a movement and a seismic shift because we’re not going to wait for another incident, ‘Oh, Asian Americans are attacked,’ so I think it’s important that we come together as one voice,” said Dipanker Mukherjee, artistic director of Pangea World Theatre. “Also, it’s important for us to understand each other,” added Meena Natarajan, the theater’s executive director. “That’s the other thing as Dipankar was talking – we have such a diversity of faith, of ethnicity, we come from different places, we have different experiences.”

The expo takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s open to the public. Tickets are $10 but free for students with an ID.

Visitors can network, check out the job fair, the workshops and presentations and more.

For more information on the expo, click here.

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