King County Councilmembers Dave Upthegrove and Joe McDermott announced this week that $1.5 million has been included in the proposed King County budget for a new international market in Tukwila.

“The Abu Bakr Islamic Center already plays an integral role in Tukwila and broader south county community, educating children and helping families hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. I am excited to continue our partnership in the coming years,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “This investment supports a lasting, community-driven endeavor that will generate community-owned housing and spur economic opportunity while keeping the important cultural integrity of our Somali and East African friends and neighbors at the heart of the project.”

King County is committed to ensuring that all people can contribute to the prosperity of the region, but new developments in South King County have led to the displacement of immigrant and refugee-run businesses. In SeaTac, Somali businesses and micro-enterprises housed in Bakaro Mall were forced to find new space when the mall was slated for re-development and in Tukwila fifteen Somali and East African owned businesses were displaced for a new city Justice Center.

“Many of us in the community have been working to create a space for small immigrant and refugee-run businesses,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “In my meetings with community leaders, small business owners and city officials we have long discussed the idea of an international market to not only provide a home to immigrant and refugee-owned businesses but also serve as an exciting new tourist attraction in South King County.”

Funding announced today would invest $1.5 million toward an international marketplace to support tourism and provide economic opportunities for immigrant and refugee communities facing displacement in South King County. The marketplace will be the final component to the innovative Wadajir project in Tukwila that will also provide for collective ownership of housing and market space, a key strategy to prevent displacement and secure a supportive and thriving center for community.

“Immigrants and refugees are an essential part of our County’s cultural and economic life. An investment in an international market in South King County will support the economic empowerment of immigrant and refugee businesses facing displacement,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I thank Councilmembers Upthegrove and McDermott for working to ensure to ensure that all community members have the opportunity to work, build a business, and pursue their dreams.”