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Asian District proposed in downtown area

Michael Duenkel, News Writer
February 27, 2013
Filed under News

While Chicago residents head to Polish Village, New Yorkers go to Little Italy, and San Francisco residents head to Chinatown, Green Bay residents may soon have the Asian District.

City officials say the neighborhood adjacent to Whitney Park, along Pine and Bodart streets on the east side of downtown Green Bay, could soon be recognized as the Asian District.

Asian-Americans represent approximately 4 percent of the Green Bay population, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, and many Hmong entrepreneurs own a number of businesses in the area proposed to be designated as Asian District.

Ray Hutchison, professor of urban and regional studies at UW-Green Bay, is the director of the Hmong Studies Center on campus. He said a number of factors are being considered in looking at designating the area as Asian District.

“What are the benefits of naming a community? It draws recognition,” Hutchison said.

He estimates there are four or five stores in the proposed district but said historically there were a number of Hmong grocery stores on Broadway Street.

Area resident Amanda Hang said she’s interested in the proposed Asian District. She thinks giving the area a designated name would help consumers recognize the area and what it has to offer.

“It’s hard to find things that I am looking for in regular stores to make the food and the clothes to celebrate the special occasions,” Hang said. “It’s hard to find the items that specifically deal with the Asian culture.”

Hang thinks giving the area a designated name would be beneficial for business-owners and consumers alike.

“The title change will benefit the store owners because it will help people not of the culture understand and go there because of interest in learning about the Asian culture,” Hang said.

Hang thinks designating the area would also help unite the Asian culture by providing an area where they can talk about their heritage as they shop.

“It will be exciting for both Asians and non-Asians alike,” Hang said. “People of mixed cultures would have a place to explore and learn what is part of them. The culture is very important to understand and share. The Asian District would help accomplish this unity.”

Hutchison noticed that many of the area stores owned by members of the Hmong community offer a variety of products, even Philippine food for example.

From Asian Taste Supermarket to Vue’s Custom Fashion and Alteration, stores in the area carry products ranging from fresh produce and hot meals to custom apparel.

Mary Kong, president of the United Hmong and Asian American Community Center, Inc. of Green Bay, said she thinks the district could be beneficial. Kong said it would be a “one-stop deal” for shoppers. She also said that the organization’s former president, Wa Yia Thao, has been working closely on the project with the mayor since early May 2012.

Kong added that a new flea market store is also going to be opening soon.

Talk of the proposed district started last spring and a time-frame for when the area could be designated as Asian District is not yet known.