Decide DeKalb and Latin American Association host business resources eventThe Decide DeKalb Development Authority, Latin American Association, and Better Business Bureau held a “Business Resources 101” event on Sept. 28 to provide information about resources and opportunities for Hispanic entrepreneurs. Photo by Sara Amis
DeKalb County, GA — The Decide DeKalb Development Authority, Latin American Association, and Better Business Bureau held a “Business Resources 101” event on Sept. 28 to provide information about resources and opportunities for Hispanic entrepreneurs.
The event was held at Latin American Association Atlanta’s Outreach Center on Buford Highway, and included information tables for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, the Better Business Bureau, the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, We Love Buford Highway, the International Rescue Committee, and U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s office, among others.
Dr. Katrina Young, Decide DeKalb’s business retention and expansion manager, said that what she sees in her work is that small businesses often aren’t aware of the resources that may be available.
Young added that it was important for those resources to be shared broadly, and that for this event, DDDA focused on the Hispanic community.
“We’ve been working with the Latin American Association for a while, and they’ve been a great partner for us,” Young said.
LAA has an economic empowerment program for Latinas that includes both introductory classes and a business accelerator program called ACCIONA. Ernesto Gonzalez is the business development director for the ACCIONA Business Center.
In addition to the accelerator program, Gonzalez said that LAA offers a training program that teaches more basic concepts like creating a business plan and profit and loss statements.
The resources presented at the Business 101 event were intended to support aspiring and current business owners at different stages in their process.
Marbella Chacon is still working on her business plan but said that she wants to open a business focused on mental health support for the Spanish-speaking community that would also connect people with services aimed at helping new immigrants and refugees orient themselves. Chacon said that Senator Ossoff’s office gave her useful information on what kinds of help could be available for her potential clients, including immigration support.
Chacon, who moved to the United States from Mexico, said that being unfamiliar with how ordinary things are done in a new culture can add an extra burden, especially for those who are still learning English.
“I know it’s hard. It was hard for me,” Chacon said, adding that there’s a shortage of counseling services for people who speak Spanish.
Carlos Aranguren, originally from Venezuela, already owns a pickup/delivery-only restaurant called Fast Food Lake that he is looking to expand. Fast Food Lake’s menu includes typical Venezuelan food like plantains and arepas along with his takes on US staples like the “Picanha Burger” which has cilantro and pico de gallo on it. The restaurant is currently only reachable online, through Instagram (@fastfoodlake), Facebook, and through Uber Eats, but Aranguren said that he wants to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. LAA is helping him write a business plan to help him secure a loan.
Aranguren said that he is also in a program through Kennesaw State, but got some additional information from the Secretary of State’s office and Senator Ossoff’s office at the Sept. 28 event.
Santiago Márquez, CEO of the Latin American Association, said that DeKalb County has long been supportive of the organization and its goals.
“Right now, our focus is on economic mobility for our community,” Márquez said.
Márquez said that it was important to make sure resources to help build businesses are available, especially in support of women entrepreneurs. However, Márquez said that collaboration with other groups was also important.
“When I say community, I mean the community as a whole,” Márquez said.
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