WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Latinx-Owned Business Roundtable focused on how to connect Latinx-, Black- And Veteran-Owned entrepreneurs with business mentors and business opportunities.
Mayrena Guerrero, founder and CEO of Colorful Resilience, a mental health provider in West Springfield, was looking for a bookkeeper.
“Where are all my Latino businesses at?” she asked rhetorically Wednesday when describing the lack of minority-owned business networking opportunities. “It’s a primarily white business environment. That’s isolating.”
Guerrero met people — business owners like herself — at the Latinx-Owned Business Roundtable for Western Massachusetts hosted by the Commonwealth Corp., a quasi-public agency that focuses on workforce development across the state. The event was at the University of Massachusetts Springfield Center in Tower Square.
It’s the first of nine upcoming seminars that will include one focusing on Black-owned business set for Springfield on Sept. 13 and an event focusing on LGBTQ+ business owners set for October in Northampton. An event focused on opportunities for veteran-owned business will be in Worcester and has not yet been scheduled.
Guerrero learned Wednesday about the Latino Economic Development Corp., a Springfield group formed last year and poised to open its office on Fort Street soon. There, she’ll not only be able to network but will get connected with business mentors and coaches and clued in about grants and business opportunities.
A panelist, Pedro Sanchez Jr., of Springfield, is one of the coaches affiliated with the Latino Economic Development Corp.
He said part of the issue with many businesses is a lack of imagination for what the next step might be.
“I see a lot of limited beliefs,” Sanchez said. “Remember that initiative starts with one person. Ideas start with one person. But we can all achieve so much more when we work together.”
The American Rescue Plan Act has made money available to train workers, according to Jennifer Droesch, a market maker for Mass Hire job centers in Franklin and Hampshire counties as well as Hampden County.
Her job is to recruit companies into programs administered by Commonwealth Corp. such as the Workforce Training Fund. She also explained how MassHire can help businesses recruit and hire.
The event also featured a welcome from Jayne Melendez, program manager from E-for-All Holyoke which does offers a business accelerator, pitch contests and limited d funding for entrepreneurs.
Another sponsor was the state’s Supplier Diversity Office which promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion in state contracting for businesses owned by minorities, women, Portuguese, veterans, service-disabled veterans, those with a disability, and LGBT individuals, as well as small Massachusetts businesses.
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