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MassDevelopment

2022 Power 50: Ivette Olmeda


May 2, 2022 : Worcester Business Journal


Through her work as a MassDevelopment fellow, Ivette Olmeda has played an instrumental role in redefining a crucial block of Worcester’s Main South neighborhood into a bustling small business hub.

Historically, the neighborhood has been cordoned off from the city’s development plans, investment, and civic engagement. Olmeda set to work collaborating with business owners along a stretch of Main Street where the majority of business owners are non-English speaking. She established the Main South Business Association, which brings together 34 businesses almost all owned by people of color. Since it was established before COVID, the business association became integral during the pandemic, as it provided information about financial support for local business owners who have faced barriers to monetary resources in the past.

Olmeda created a website aimed at rebranding Main South and increasing businesses’ visibility. The site provides a platform for businesses that have previously lacked an online presence. Olmeda’s strategies have demonstrated it is possible for a diverse range of businesses to thrive in Worcester through face-to-face work with underrepresented entrepreneurs.

What sets the Central Mass. business community apart from the rest of the world? The economy is spurred by its diverse culture, major recent investments like the Polar Park baseball stadium, business incubation models, and local high-tech manufacturers. Our geographic proximity to other New England cities and our first-rate educational institutions help us attract talent.

Long-term commitment: A Worcester resident for more than 35 years, I’ve been a member of my local church for that entire time, enjoying the opportunity to do volunteer teaching and bring resources (like a vaccine clinic) to the congregation.