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How aspiring business owners in Mesa can make their dream a reality

Monica Alvarado has had a dream since 2016 to open up her own smoothie and protein shop. The MesaCAN Economic Development Program helped make her dream a reality.

MESA, Ariz. — When Monica Alvarado recalls driving east on University Drive near Extension Road in Mesa when she just moved to Arizona in 2019, her voice fills with wonderment as she talks about the plaza on the intersection's southwest corner.

“I look into the plaza. And I say, ‘Wouldn't it be nice to have my shop there?’,” Alvarado recalled. 

Opening a smoothie protein shop has been a dream for Alvarado since 2016, saying she’s had this "thing" with health and nutrition. She remembers thinking how the plaza in Mesa could be a place that might make her dream come true.

“There was something with this plaza, there's something with the community,” Alvarado said.

While the dream lingered for Alvarado, it wasn’t until 2020 that she took action, not knowing where to begin. That’s where MesaCAN Economic Development Program stepped in to help fill the gaps.

“You know, when you want something, but just don't know how it's gonna happen? I was like, ‘Well, where do I, where do I start?’,” Alvarado said.

It started with an appointment with a mentor, where Alvarado said she was able to lay out her dream of opening a smoothie shop.

Now, that dream is in one of those spaces in that very plaza at University and Extension, which is now filled with an orange and black logo reading: "Daily Vibes Energy & Nutrition."

“I did not know that you needed a business plan. That was the first time I heard that any of your business plan. I knew that I needed to file taxes, but I didn't know what that was called,” Alvarado said.

It’s those kinds of tangible help, the nitty gritty of running a business, that the MesaCAN program can help with.

“We provide a strong foundation of mentoring, providing them business skills, we help them with the business plans, how to develop their LLC and or nonprofit, how to open up their account at a bank or their business account,” said Eva Felix, director of MesaCAN.

The nonprofit program offers workshops, education, training, mentorship and more to help small business owners and entrepreneurs in Mesa.

“What we have been able to see is that there's a great need because, let's face it, a small business is the backbone of businesses in the nation,” Felix said.

Now, behind the counter Alvarado is fast at making one of the ‘Tea Bomb’ recipes that fill her menu. She said her friends helped her taste-test all the recipes she created herself to get them just right.

“My next goals are to continue to assist more and more in the community, hire help,” Alvarado said.

She hopes the dream she first spotted in that plaza when she first moved from the Midwest will go on to help the community her business now calls home.

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