Maria Ontiveros wins state honors during Women’s History Month

Mercado on Fifth President Maria Ontiveros was among eight women honored recently by Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs during Women’s History Month. CREDIT MERCADO ON FIFTH

Mercado on Fifth President and Co-founder Maria Ontiveros was among eight women who Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs honored recently during Women’s History Month at an event in Springfield.  

Ms. Ontiveros received the Treasurer’s Outstanding Commitment to Community Service award for her work with Mercado on Fifth, a nonprofit organization that hosts a weekly outdoor night market and festival along Moline’s Fifth Avenue, according to a news release. 

“Today, we honor women who are educating our youth, creating jobs and inspiring others,” Mr. Frerichs said in the release. “As treasurer, I have promoted national and regional efforts to promote corporate board diversity, including persuading companies to appoint more women to their boards.” 

Since co-founding Mercado on Fifth with her now late grandfather Robert “Bob” Ontiveros, Ms. Ontiveros has grown the organization’s team and led the way to last year’s grand opening of a permanent facility. The center’s transformation – from a former auto parts business – was assisted by a Minority Business Incubator grant from the State of Illinois, the release states. 

Mercado has supported about 130 small businesses and nonprofits in the Quad Cities over the years, providing local Hispanic chefs, artists and entrepreneurs with the space to thrive and inspire future generations, according to the release.

In addition to her work with Mercado, Ms. Ontiveros serves as a board member of the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK), Visit Quad Cities, United Way Quad Cities, Quad City Arts and the Two Rivers YMCA. She also is the corporate community liaison for Group O, one of the largest Hispanic-owned U.S. companies, which also was founded by her grandfather.  

The U.S. first participated in International Women’s History Day in 1911. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation to declare National Women’s History Week, and in 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month, according to the Illinois Treasurer’s release. 

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