Noelia Urzula Vasquez of La Loma Tamales was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the NACCE (National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship) at their 7th annual conference in Chicago last week.
In 1999, working with her husband, Enrique Garcia Salazar, Vazquez founded the La Loma Coffee Shop at Mercado Central, a Latin American marketplace that was just opening in Minneapolis. The shop quickly blossomed as the busiest business at the popular marketplace. The modest coffee shop evolved into Cafeteria La Loma, and sells as many as 2,500 tamales a day. The venture was only the beginning for Noelia and Enrique, who have gone on to found La Loma Mexican Restaurants at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis and Plaza Latina in St. Paul, a catering business, and a wholesale tamale business that serves more than 260 stores in Minnesota and is on track to expand its sales nationwide. The company has 35 employees and annual sales topping $2.5 million.
“Noelia’s entrepreneurial success is truly inspiring,” said NACCE Executive Director Heather Van Sickle. “She and her husband have taken something as simple as a tamale and, through hard work and perseverance, created a vibrant, growing business that employs dozens of people. We are very pleased to shine a light on her story through this award.”