News Column

Hispanic Entrepreneurs: Small-Business Pilot Program Starts

October 4, 2012

David Burge, El Paso Times, Texas

Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce want more Hispanics to start, own and succeed in business.

The two national organizations have partnered to better target Hispanic entrepreneurs and Hispanic-owned small businesses.

To do that, they have created a pilot program through the end of the year.

Locally, the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is one of eight Hispanic Chambers around the nation that will participate.

The goal is to help spur the economy and create jobs through small-business ownership and growth, said Yolanda G. Olivarez, the SBA's South Central Regional administrator. Her region includes Texas, New Mexico and three other states.

The other Hispanic chambers that will participate are those in Austin, Nashville, Tenn., and Philadelphia and statewide programs in California, Florida, Ohio and Utah.

The pilot program will help make sure that Hispanic-owned small businesses are aware of the SBA's loan guarantee programs and educational and counseling resources that are available, Olivarez said.

"We've done a really good job of reaching out to the Hispanic community, but we want to strive to do better not only for Hispanics but all small-business owners," Olivarez said.

In El Paso, the pilot program will begin on Wednesday with an event called "Hablemos de Dinero! (Let's Talk Money) Live Business to Lender Presentations."

The program will feature skits on the do's and don'ts of how to obtain financing for a business, said Cindy Ramos-Davidson, chief executive officer of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber.

"It will be a lot of fun," she said.

It will also include a more formal training session led by Adrian Madrigal, business development officer with the SBA's El Paso District office.

The workshop will be followed up that evening by the Hispanic Chamber's Sol de Oro Awards, which will highlight 22 El Paso area businesses that made Hispanic Magazine's Hispanic 500 list of the largest Hispanic companies in the nation.

The financing presentation and training session will be the first of what should be many events that the El Paso Hispanic Chamber and local SBA office will work together on between now and the end of the year, Ramos-Davidson said.

The pilot program is designed to encourage Hispanics to better use the "wonderful programs" that the SBA has available to help entrepreneurs grow, expand and sustain a company, Ramos-Davidson said.

"The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized the shortfall with Hispanic businesses and their ability to access, understand and use the tools available through the SBA," Ramos-Davidson said.

One of those resources is the Women's Business Border Center, which has been run as a partnership by the El Paso Hispanic Chamber and the SBA for the past 12 years, Ramos-Davidson said.

"I think we've done a good job" of targeting Hispanic businesses, said Phillip C. Silva, the SBA's El Paso District director. "But there is always room for improvement and to continue to outreach to the Hispanic community."

During the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the SBA's El Paso District office guaranteed $25 million in loans to Hispanic-owned small businesses, up from $19 million last year.

Nationwide since 2009, the SBA has supported and helped to guarantee more than 12,000 loans worth $4.4 billion to Hispanic-owned small businesses, and nearly $1 billion of that lending occurred in fiscal year 2012.

During that same period, the SBA also trained and counseled more than 532,000 Hispanic-owned small businesses through its network of district and field offices and resource partners, such as SCORE and Women's Business Centers.

The SBA has also helped Hispanic-owned businesses secure prime contracts from the federal government worth $32.7 billion, also since 2009.



Source: (c) 2012 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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