Troops, local council, work to improve markets, small businesses
By Sgt. Robert Yde
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – “Everyday it’s improving,” Capt. Joseph Guzowski, the commander of Troop A, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, remarked about a small market in Salhiyah after a walk-through and assessment of it earlier in the day.
The Soldiers of “Apache” Troop have been patrolling the central Baghdad neighborhood on a daily basis since taking over operations of the area in June, and during that time, their focus has been on working in conjunction with the Salhiyah Neighborhood Advisory Council to improve the lives of this small, yet densely populated area that lies in downtown Baghdad just outside the International Zone.
After helping renovate and reopen several schools in the area over the past few months, they are now turning their attention toward economic issues by focusing on the markets, which are populated with small businesses.
“It takes a little while to get these projects up and running, but slowly it’s improving,” Guzowski, originally from Buffalo, N.Y., said. “What I’m hoping to see is at least five or six of the market shops starting to improve or rebuild.”
The Soldiers accompanied by NAC member, Dhia, began their assessment with a small market lying just outside the Salhiyah apartment complex Sept. 5.
“All the markets: they are doing well,” Dhia said. “They keep building more markets because this sector is so safe. They’re doing good business over here.”
After completing the walk-through, Guzowski said that they want to help to continue cleaning up trash in the area and repaving the sidewalks, but that one of the major problems is the traffic flow into the market.
“There’s only two main routes in and out of the area, so we’ve got to improve the roads there,” Guzowski said. “We also want to put up some swing barriers so local residents can just get in and out.”
Aside from cosmetic and security improvements, the assessment gave them a chance to talk to some of the business owners about a micro-loan program that is being started in the area.
The micro-loans, which are provided with money by 4-9 Cav. and made available through the Salhiyah NAC, will be granted in increments of $2,500, with the goal that investing into small businesses will benefit the entire community.
“We work together and we find out which businesses are more in need and start with them just by talking to the shop owners,” Guzowski explained. “What we ask every NAC member to do is to go into their local communities and find businesses that need a loan, maybe for a new fridge or stove so they can hire more employees to stimulate the economy.
The program can also offer loans to potential business owners who approach the NAC with their plans.
“People can present business plans to the NAC and request small business loans,” Dhia explained. “We’re trying to help people one way or another.”
Guzowski said that these cooperative assessments will continue with other market area in Salhiyah, but so far, the early feedback from business owners has been very positive.
“They’re very excited, especially the smaller shop owners,” he said. “Those guys are very appreciative, and I think once one or two of them take off and are running, we’ll get a better response – just word of mouth throughout the community.’
‘It shows that the local economy is getting under way and local government is getting under way.”
Salhiyah Neighborhood Advisory Council member, Dhia, talks with Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, before escorting them on a market assessment in the central Baghdad neighborhood Sept. 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Customers stop by a fruit stand in a market in the central Baghdad Salhiyah neighborhood Sept. 5. Improvements to small businesses like this one is a currrent focus of the Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment and members of the Salhiyah Neighborhood Advisory Council. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment walk through a market in the central Baghdad Salhiyah neighborhood during an assessment of the area Sept. 5. The Soldiers are working with the Salhiyah Neighborhood Advisory Council to make improvements to the area’s markets and small businesses. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Salhiyah Neighborhood Advisory Council member, Dhia, talks with the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Matlock (left), while Troop A commander Capt. Joseph Guzowski maintains security during a market assessment in the central Baghdad neighborhood Sept. 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)