Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month
September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to honor the contributions that Hispanic and Latino Americans have made to U.S. art, culture and society. It’s also a fitting occasion to celebrate the impact of Hispanic and Latino entrepreneurs on the nation’s economy.
According to the Joint Economic Committee Hispanic Entrepreneurship and Business Brief:
- Nearly one in four new businesses is Hispanic owned.
- The nearly 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. contribute more than $800 billion to the American economy annually.
- There are more than 300,000 Hispanic-owned, employer businesses located across the country. These enterprises employ at least one employee other than the owner.
- Hispanic employer businesses employ about 1 million workers, with more than $100 billion in annual payroll.
- In the decade preceding the pandemic, the number of Hispanic business owners increased 34% compared to an increase of just 1% among non-Hispanic business owners.
Fewer barriers, stronger communities
Hispanic and Latino businesses make Pierce County more diverse, vibrant and prosperous. They create jobs and put money back into the local economy. But barriers can prevent these businesses from succeeding.
“Pierce County’s Latino community is resilient and entrepreneurial, but starting a small business requires proper training,” said Dr. Bernal Baca, Executive Director of Mi Centro, a Tacoma-based nonprofit that provides social, cultural and educational services to the greater Pierce County Latino and Indigenous Native community. “The maze of red tape and technicalities makes it difficult to succeed when people don’t have the proper tools and resources.”
Thanks to programs launched by the Pierce County Economic Development Department, made possible by funding by the American Rescue Act Plan, Mi Centro has been able to extend its reach to help Latino and Hispanic businesses take off and succeed.
Mi Centro is a partner of the Pierce County Business Accelerator (PCBA) program, created in August 2020 in response to the pandemic’s impact on underserved communities. The program is designed to help BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), veteran and women-owned businesses grow and prosper. Cohorts receive direct access to business resources and network support to launch and grow micro businesses in Pierce County.
Mi Centro is also one of seven community partners that make up the Pierce County Navigator Program. Pierce County Economic Development serves as the program’s hub, working with trusted organizations that connect businesses with programs and services, including contracting and procurement; financial assistance and access to capital; marketing, operations, business development and exporting; and industry-specific training.
According to Dr. Baca, the Pierce County programs have enabled Mi Centro to reach around 140 small Latino businesses in the community.
Creating conditions to thrive
Mi Centro’s impact goes far beyond business support services. The organization provides the necessary skills for Latinos to become leaders in economic security, legal protection, health and housing equity, and education. The organization’s services range from family outreach and education to advocacy, and extends to arts and culture programming.
“We want the Latino community to know that we are their trusted partner,” Baca said. “We are here to support, celebrate and advocate for them.”
Join the celebration! Mi Centro will hold a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration 12-6 pm, Oct. 29. The event will feature vendors, art, food, music and more. Preliminary details are available here.