Mihailo Temali '76

2009 Distinguished Citizen Award

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Mihailo Temali grew up on St. Paul’s East Side, the son of World War II refugees. East Side people came from many cultures and worked hard to make their way in the world. It was the ideal beginning for the future founder and executive director of the Neighborhood Development Center.

The NDC provides small business training, lending, technical assistance, and a business incubator development program for inner-city, low-income entrepreneurs. Working in five languages, the NDC staff has trained over 3,800 low-income entrepreneurs in a 16-week class, and assisted more than 600 entrepreneurs in starting their own businesses. Temali helped develop five business incubator projects including Mercado Central (soon to celebrate its 10th anniversary), Midtown Global Market, the Swedish Bank Building, and soon, Frogtown Station and Entrepreneur Center. Temaili’s approach incorporates "the dual responsibility of the individual entrepreneurs to build their businesses and of society to lower extraordinary barriers like language, financing, and access to business knowledge."

JoAnna Villone Hicks ’96, who once worked with Temali wrote, "Mike has devoted his entire career to promoting opportunities for low-income and minority residents of inner-city neighborhoods. These entrepreneurs serve as role models in their communities, filling vacant storefronts in distressed neighborhoods and employing fellow residents."

Temali earned a master’s degree in public affairs at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute. As a Bush Leadership Fellow in 1998, he studied at Harvard and MIT, and did development work in Santiago, Chile. In 2007 he presented the NDC’s model to the trustees of the Ford Foundation. Temali’s book, The Community Economic Development Handbook: Strategies and Tools to Revitalize Your Neighborhood, is a key resource for development professionals.