Mercado on Fifth boosts local minority-owned businesses with new grants 

A food vendor will receive money to buy an electric griddle. A boxing academy will purchase new treadmills. And a business that sells balloon bouquets will get a balloon-stuffing machine.

Those businesses and others are getting a financial helping hand through new Minority Business Equipment Grants awarded by Mercado on Fifth and the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities (WIU-QC).

Maria Ontiveros, president of Mercado on Fifth, said she hopes the minority grants will help small businesses thrive. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Maria Ontiveros, president of Mercado on Fifth, said she hopes the grant money will help small businesses in the community thrive by getting them needed equipment for their businesses operations.

“A broken piece of equipment can stand in the way of a small business from being successful. … I hope these grants will offer at least a little help for these businesses,” Ms. Ontiveros told the QCBJ after a brief ceremony to present the grant checks Monday, April 4.

During the ceremony, held at the Moline Public Library, grant checks totaling $16,044 were presented to 19 minority-owned businesses and startups to mark the fifth funding cycle of Mercado’s equipment grant program.

That program was spearheaded by the late Bob Ontiveros, founder of both Group O and the Mercado. Since its launch in 2018, the program has presented $78,000 in grants to minority-owned businesses.

Ms. Ontiveros credits her grandfather’s commitment to helping minority entrepreneurs for the ongoing success of the grant program.

“This is one of the many ways his legacy will continue to have a positive impact on the Quad Cities,” Ms. Ontiveros said in a news release. “Access to capital is challenging for these businesses, and we’re happy to provide a little support.”

Ann Friederichs, Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) business advisor, congratulates business owners who received equipment grants during a ceremony Monday, April 4, hosted by Mercado on Fifth and SBDC. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

In addition to presenting the checks, the ceremony also was a time to congratulate small business owners for surviving and thriving during some tough times over the past few years.

“You may fall down seven times, but you get up eight times,” Ann Friederichs, SBDC business advisor, said in honoring the businesses.

Ms. Friederichs added that small businesses continue to be the fiscal backbone of the country by creating 65% of all new jobs in 2021.

Several business owners who received grant money said they are grateful for the financial help.

“It means a lot to me, knowing that we are getting community support and support from Mercado on Fifth. This will help us,” said Carlos Gomez of Gomez Family Farm LLC.

Mr. Gomez received a grant to buy a trailer for his five-acre agriculture business that will grow watermelons, fruit trees and vegetable seed starts that he hopes to sell to retail customers.

In order to be eligible for grant funding, business owners must sign up for one-on-one consultation with the Illinois SBDC. The center offers services in English and Spanish, and helps set up businesses for success.

“This grant is not only for local business owners, it is a celebration of their willingness to persevere. We are here to honor them and their hard work,” Ms. Friederichs said in the release.

Here are the businesses who received grants as well as the equipment items they requested: 

  • CleanBee Residential, LCC – vacuums and cleaning supplies.
  • Just Beachy Home+ – trailer.
  • Polished QC – commercial carpet cleaner.
  • Tamales for Hope – cart and dolly.
  • Adolfo’s Hair Studio/Adolfo’s Imports – tent, tables and hair stations.
  • Isa Balloon Design and More – balloon stuffing machine.
  • Gomez Family Farm, LLC — trailer.
  • Alienboi Boxing Academy – treadmills.
  • Bodyworks With Dionna Reed – electric massage table.
  • Matar Tronos – iPad.
  • Empanadas Cali – commercial fryer, rolling dough miller and mixer.
  • Taqueria Roly’s – blender.
  • Emmanuel Garcia, New Vegan Food Truck – electric griddle.
  • Lucky Vend – machine repair and tools.
  • Speeding Movers LLC – truck wrap.
  • 2 Brothers’ Biscuits – stove and refrigerator.
  • Raulito’s Tacos – commercial food warmer and commercial refrigerator.
  • Los Charros – stove.
  • Shades of Color Beauty Supplies Inc. – register repair and laptop.

To learn more about Mercado on Fifth, go to Go to the “Blog” feature on the website to see more on the grants.

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