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Southside Holiday Market Heightens Awareness of Local Businesses and Community Groups

Lauren Winfrey/WAER News

  Now that the holiday season is underway, what better time than the present to give thanks and rally together as a community for the greater good of the city and its economy. This was the idea behind the South Side Innovation Center’s (SSIC) annual Holiday Market which took place Saturday at the Center located on South Salina Street. Local businesses and community members were invited to sample the food and retail products created by the SSIC clients and tenants.

  Tables manned by local entrepreneurs and community groups were arranged within the Center creating a communal atmosphere and a space for the kind of civic engagement that is both welcoming and purposeful.

Artresa Delee sat at one of the first tables closest to the entrance representing the Southwest Community Center. Delee’s table was brimming with pamphlets and flyers related to the Heritage Health Kick—a movement within the community that promotes the importance of a well-balanced diet.

“What we’re doing here today is promoting an operation to involve our children and a professional chef in incorporating the economy’s values like vegetables, fruit, and so forth into a healthy meal or snack for the children,” Delee said. “The children would then prepare the food themselves and also sell the food in the Southwest Community center and [during] the upcoming events for a profit [that will] benefit the children and the community center.”

The importance of Heritage Health Kick extends far beyond nutrition. Delee considers it a chance to increase youth involvement in the community while teaching them the value of healthy living through a healthier diet.

Credit Lauren Winfrey/WAER News
Vendors at the SSIC Holiday Market offered hand-made goods, as well as prepared and fresh food items.

  Delee wasn’t alone in her efforts to promote a good thing. Dana Steinman, owner and founder of Dana Bakes, was only a few tables over selling and sharing what he considers a more flavorful take on baked goods.

“My whole approach, my philosophy is that I like a more flavorful palate—something that is going to offer you a reason to be joyful that you indulged on a baked good,” Steinman said.

But beyond fusing flavors, Steinman finds comfort in building his brand in Syracuse.

“I love being in Syracuse,” Steinman said.  “Syracuse and local businesses are tantamount because the local businesses are the color, the fabric, the integrity, the individuality, [and] the character of our town.”

And El-Java Abdul-Qadir, director of the Southside Innovation Center, might agree.

“I think that small businesses in the Syracuse area is the way to go,” Abdul-Qadir confirmed. “I think the mindset of the people that live in Syracuse is kind of geared toward that. If you look around you’ll see that there are small business in every neighborhood because everybody cannot make it to the mall. Everybody cannot, and [doesn’t] have access to going online… small businesses were still viable, and they were still happening.”

The SSIC is a non-profit organization affiliated with Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. The goal of the organization is to ensure local businesses maintain the sense of viability Abdul-Qadir alludes to. Launched in April 2006, the SSIC seeks to increase the vitality of the local economy by fostering the growth and expansion of small businesses.

Adbul-Qadur stressed the importance of community events such as the Holiday Market. Not only does the event allow local business owners to showcase their product, but it also creates a space for city residents to come together in an effort to support local entrepreneurs and local community groups as well.

To learn more about the SSIC and local businesses currently working with the organization visit their website:

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.