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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

Mihailo Temali Named Macalester Distinguished Citizen

June 9, 2009 - Mihailo “Mike” Temali of St. Paul, Minn., has been named one of Macalester College’s 2009 Distinguished Citizens. Temali graduated from Macalester in 1976.

The Distinguished Citizen Citation recognizes alumni who have exercised leadership in civic, social, religious and professional activities. It is given because the Alumni Association, the Board of Trustees and the faculty of Macalester believe that a college education should be the training and inspiration for unselfish and effective service to the community, the nation and the world. Recipients demonstrate a practical acceptance of these obligations in their lives and work.

Temali grew up on St. Paul’s East Side, the son of World War II refugees, who devoted their lives to improving the lives of others. It was the ideal beginning for the future founder and executive director of the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) in St. Paul. 

The NDC provides small business training, lending, technical assistance, and a business incubator development program for inner-city entrepreneurs. Working in five languages, English, Hmong, Oromo, Somali, and Spanish and in 12 low-income neighborhoods, the NDC staff has trained over 3,800 entrepreneurs in a 16-week class, and assisted more than 600 people with entrepreneurial talent in starting their own businesses. The NDC has also developed the first loan program acceptable to the Islamic community, opening new opportunities to Muslim entrepreneurs.

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. Temali said his 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 has written a signature book on development, The Community Economic Development Handbook, used by community developers everywhere.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,858 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.