Training Small Businesses to Succeed

The Hispanic Chamber stays true to its overall mission by establishing and strengthening vital relationships with several initiatives — both government-run and private — aimed to assist small businesses.

In its two decades as a singular entity, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (HCCL) has strived to serve the various, yet particular, needs of the business community and spark economic development amongst this rapidly-growing segment of the state’s population.

One of the many effective methods in doing that has been the HCCL’s commitment to providing local Hispanic Small Businesses every tool available in sustaining long-term success and growth.

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For example, when Goldman Sachs announced its ‘10,000 Small Businesses’ program nearly a decade ago, HCCL officials made sure to connect local Hispanic business owners with the initiative so that they could take full advantage of the free, advanced curriculum which continues to take place at Delgado Community College.

In February 2019, the HCCL and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center of Greater New Orleans and the Bayou Region — developed in the early 1980s by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Louisiana Economic Development – announced a formal collaboration to enhance its outreach among the Hispanic population, particularly in Jefferson Parish.

Perhaps the most noticeable and beneficial facet of the partnership calls for the Louisiana Small Business Development Center to have a satellite office staffed with bilingual consultants within the Hispanic Foundation Workforce Training Center in Kenner.

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“It’s a win-win for both organizations,” said Mayra Pineda, President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana. “The collaboration immediately doubled our staff, and by having the SBDC in-house at our Center, it’s enabled them to serve the Hispanic community in ways they never could before. It gives those who run small businesses, or are planning to run a small business, the one-on-one consulting services that are such a benefit — in addition to the seminars and instructions we’ve already been doing year-round.

“And you see the effect of the collaboration already,” Pineda continued. “Our Center in Kenner has quickly grown into a staple in the community — the go-to place for personal services, direction and resources for small business owners, which is critical.”

Available to both start-up and existing small businesses in Louisiana, the Small Business Development Center network provides hands-on management, technical assistance, training and market research for free to clients across all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes. From the Fall of 2017 to the Fall of 2018, Louisiana Small Business Development Centers helped start 141 businesses and created close to 900 new jobs in the state.

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Considering nearly 15 percent of Jefferson Parish residents are Hispanic (as of the last U.S. Census), having a SBDC presence in Kenner has already helped the HCCL’s outreach in a community that might not have been fully aware of the boost the network provides to small business owners.

“I think one of the things that the (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) has done, since Mayra has come aboard as president, is form strategic alliances, and this is another great example,” said Jo Ann Lawrence, Deputy District Director for the Small Business Administration. “By joining up and partnering, this ensures the Hispanic community is aware and can take full advantage of everything these SBDCs offer to entrepreneurs.”

As part of the SBDC/HCCL collaboration, officials have already begun designing business-specific consulting strategies — plans for restaurant owners, for example — and are forming workshops and seminars to help Hispanic business owners in numerous sectors of creating and maintaining a business, such as tutorials on how to apply for loans and which approaches work best for business development plans.

“What we’re cast to do is provide economic impact, said Carmen Sunda, Director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center of Greater New Orleans and the Bayou Region. “And it has to be measurable economic impact. Our challenge is to serve a large geographic area, so to have a full-time presence in that training center in Kenner — where there’s such a large surrounding population — is perfect for us and perfect for the Chamber because they have a consultant on site and an Hispanic consultant on contract for those who are more comfortable talking and working with someone in their own language.”

The HCCL has a long, proven track record when it comes to introducing those they serve to programs that support their small-business needs.

With Goldman Sachs, the HCCL encouraged the ‘10,000 Small Businesses’ officials to promote the initiative to Hispanic small business owners in Louisiana. Those that were chosen and enrolled received at least 80 hours of business education at Delgado Community College, and 6 to 8 hours per week of business support services and expert advice to help increase revenue and create new job positions in the business. One of the pleasant consequences of the Goldman Sachs program is that Hispanic small business owners also got to network and build relationships with their contemporaries.

“We can have so many business opportunities in the area, but if our people and those running the businesses don’t know about it, then it does us no good,” Pineda said. “So The Hispanic Chamber has been a partner in this program and has been able to refer some amazing business owners — landscapers, insurance agents, marketing companies, even communications specialists — every year.

“It’s a big commitment, but the business owners who have gone through it have seen the immediate impact it makes on their businesses.”


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