(L to R): Costilla County Commissioner Lawrence Pacheco, Fort Market owners Gerald and Emerald Tamada, Representative Scott Tipton (CO-3) and CEF staff members Anne Misak, Alan Ramirez and Marcia Johnston-Walden.
For the month of August, OFN is highlighting Members who have a scheduled advocacy activity with a member of Congress. This week’s spotlight features a site visit to a local grocery store coordinated by Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) with Representative Scott Tipton (CO-3). You can view past spotlights here. If you have an upcoming congressional site visit or another advocacy related event planned for the month of August, please email Katie Havlovic at email@example.com so we can feature you. If you have not already, check out OFN’s Congressional Site Visit Toolkit, and request your site visit today!
Name: Anne Misak
CDFI: Colorado Enterprise Fund
City, State of Site Visit: Fort Garland, CO
Borrower Visited: Fort Market, a grocery store in Costilla County
Outside of Fort Market grocery store
Which member(s) of Congress and staff attended? US Representative Scott Tipton and staff member Brenda Felmlee, Regional Field Representative
What does it take to have a successful site visit? The borrowers need to be ready for it and the project should have a compelling story that both the CDFI and the borrower can portray to the member of Congress. It also helps if it fits with the Congressional member’s priorities.
What was the highlight of the site visit? Rep Tipton spent quite a bit of time listening to store owners Gerald and Emerald Tamada and touring the small grocery store. At one point, Emerald teared up when County Commissioner Lawrence Pacheco thanked her and Gerald for not giving up on the store or the community.
Fort Market owner Gerald Tamada, Representative Scott Tipton and owner Emerald Tamada
Did you or your borrower provide any impact data (jobs created, how the project was financed, etc.) during the site visit? We explained that we used HFFI dollars to help make this deal happen. We and the borrower also talked about the importance of the store in providing healthy food access to this small rural community.
What is one piece of advice you have for a CDFI trying to schedule an upcoming site visit? Be persistent and follow up. The scheduler reached out to us in May and said she would get back to us before the Aug recess. When I hadn’t heard back by mid-July, I followed up. If I hadn’t, we probably wouldn’t have gotten the visit scheduled. Congressional staff are busy so it’s up to us to help make things happen.
(L to R): Representative Scott Tipton and Fort Market owner Gerald Tamada
Produce at Fort Market grocery store in Fort Garland, CO