For Caledonia businessman Akil Ajmeri, life is about family and community, and he's been able to build his business with a focus on strengthening both.
Ajmeri is at it again with a new, $1.2 million development in the City of Racine at 1130 Washington Avenue.
The new project will combine a gas station, convenience store and a Subway restaurant with the first drive thru in Southeast Wisconsin for the restaurant chain. An additional retail space is also planned as part of the building.
"My business is all about family and about building a stronger community," Ajmeri said at the official groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
The gas station will be named for his older daughter, Ayra, while the Subway will be named for his younger daughter, Ayman.
"I have to have them both or one will be jealous," he joked.
Ajmeri said he chose the site on Washington because he drove by it nearly every day for two years taking his daughter to and from Racine Montessori School.
"I looked around and thought about what the neighborhood could use," he said. "So, I contacted Caledonia Trustee Kevin Wanggaard to help me get started."
Wanggaard said he's known Ajmeri for years and everything Ajmeri does is about building community so Wanggaard wasn't surprised to hear about this new idea.
"Akil does everything for the betterment of the community," he said. "This is gem for the city because Akil is a quality businessman who will build nothing less than the best."
Ajmeri said construction will begin in earnest by the end of the month and is expected to complete sometime this fall. He told Patch he will only use local labor, and will hire, too, from the area to fill some 21 new jobs once the site is ready to open.
"I got bids from Michigan and Chicago, but I want to give companies here the work so our residents get the jobs, he explained. "I want to keep my money here, and the employees we'll hire will be from right here, too, because I want to help the community more than anything."