MESA, AZ — The Asian District in Mesa will soon see some official branding in the way of banners and signage, hopefully drawing more people to the 70 Asian-owned businesses, grocery stores, and restaurants in the area.
The district itself runs along a two-mile stretch on Dobson Road, between Southern Avenue and Main Street.
Jason Li owns Z&Y Gifts, near Dobson Road and Main Street, in Mesa. He sells items from mostly China, Japan, and Korea.
Li said he's excited about the branding project for the district.
"This project really helps us a lot. It brings a lot of attention to new customers and people from other cities come here to check out the Asian District and see what we have here," he said.
In 2020, the city officially named the area the Asian District.
Councilmember Francisco Heredia, who represents west Mesa, said the area has grown organically over the past couple of decades. They want to keep bringing people to the district.
"The Asian District has seen a 50% increase in the last three years of sales tax revenue, even with the pandemic," said Heredia.
Last month, city leaders approved a two-year contract at $100,000 a year to buy and install street signs to highlight the area.
"We're really excited and proud of this area. It has a lot of activity, a lot of restaurants, a lot of grocery stores, a lot of people that are attracted to this area and we want to keep promoting this," said Heredia.
The city plans to install banners on street poles and various buildings. They're also looking for artists to create a community mural for the district.
Li said before Mekong Market, AZ International, H-Mart and other grocery stores opened in the area, there were few options for the Asian community.
"This is the area where we go--where we hang out. Mesa is just the place," said Li. "Without the Asian District or the Asian community, those providers--we cannot eat where we want. That's the thing. We want to keep our own culture."
As part of the celebration, the first-ever Asian Festival is this Saturday, February 5, 2022, at the Park and Ride Main St. & Sycamore. The free event runs from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. There will be live entertainment and performances, cultural booths, activities for kids, and plenty of food vendors and trucks.