East Side Area Business Association: a bridge to resources and development

With its 110 members, the group works to create more opportunities for the businesses and residents of St. Paul’s East Side


The East Side of St. Paul has a wide diversity of businesses and people. You can find delicious Thai food right down the street from a coffee shop or supermercado.

Nevertheless — just like any business — these places and the people who run them need resources and stability. That’s where the East Side Area Business Association comes in, says Executive Director Paris Dunning. 

“We’re working on building a bridge to the city and connecting adequate resources for economic development as we promote all the positives that East Side businesses have to offer,” he says. “An individual business can raise their voice, but not in the way 100 businesses can.”

Dunning says that he and the members in the ESABA network work to provide access to the knowledge and means for businesses to stay on the East Side and thrive where they are. 

“For people who are running a business,” he says, “finding a local network of promotion and support can be huge.”

The list of ESABA members is as diverse as the businesses you pass on any East Side street. Stop by the Minnesota Music Cafe or Ho Ho Gourmet to relax and grab a bite to eat. Run down to Saint Paul’s Flat Earth or Morelli’s for your drink of choice. Within the neighborhood, there will be a shop or business for any of your needs.

Additionally, while locals have their own personal preferences, ESABA is inviting them to share the things they love in a campaign called “East Side 50 Favorites” to create a bigger picture and a bigger impact for businesses. This campaign is an opportunity for those who know the area best to highlight their favorite places and spaces. Dunning says participation not only shines a light on popular businesses in the area, but also gives a chance for smaller businesses to reach out and gain traction.

Despite being local favorites, however, all of the businesses on the East Side could still use more resources from the city of St. Paul itself. Whether it’s the mayor’s business review council or candidate debates, ESABA wants to help provide that voice. 

“The East Side is a third of the city,” Dunning says. “Working together, our voices could have more impact for all of us. Participation in the workings of the city, knowledge about how business development processes work and what resources are available are bridges to success. ESABA is there to help build those bridges.”

Want to become an ESABA member? After a simple application and dues, the list of resources the group provides is yours. At the end of the day, Dunning and his team want to help East Side businesses — and the community as a whole — succeed. 

“Businesses on the East Side are building a new economic story,” Dunning says. “We’re working with them as they shape the next chapter.”



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