Cookie Cart looking at East Side

Cookie Cart, based in Minneapolis, could be looking to add an East Side location. The company is a youth employer that runs training programs for kids while also giving them hands-on job training. They employed 145 youth in 2013. (submitted photo)

The nonprofit youth employer Cookie Cart might be adding a location on St. Paul’s East Side.

The Minneapolis-based company employs neighborhood teens in North Minneapolis, giving them hands-on job training, financial literacy training and career readiness training.

Youths work in the bakery making cookies for wholesale, as well as to sell in the company’s retail shop, while also taking courses with the organization.

Cookie Cart has been around since 1988, and has seen strong growth recently. They employed 145 youth in 2013.

Matt Halley, executive director of Cookie Cart, said East Side neighborhoods and Frogtown are both in the running.

But “from the reception that we’re getting on the East Side ... looking at the community and what property is available, I think we’re leaning East Side,” Halley said.

The company has looked at several properties on the East Side with the help of the East Side Neighborhood Development Company, Halley said.

John Vaughn, director of ESNDC, said he was pulling for Cookie Cart to put a new location on the East Side. He was particularly keen on the business landing on Payne Avenue or Arcade Street.

Vaughn noted the company’s youth employment programs as something that could be an asset to the neighborhood.

“They would just kind of add to all the excitement we’ve had,” in terms of new businesses coming in, he said. “It would be a homerun.”

Cookie Cart would like to add a new location in 2015, after an upgrade is made to its current facility at 1119 W. Broadway Ave. in Minneapolis.

As soon as the renovation work is done, the company will start fundraising for a second location.

Halley noted the organization has already begun to network with St. Paul companies, including the East Side youth organization Face to Face.

-- Patrick Larkin

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