By: Marcos Lebron
As the Hispanic population grows in Buffalo, Rochester and Dunkirk. NY so does the number of Hispanic-owned businesses. However, what most residents don't realize is that many of these businesses —Newspapers, communications companies, radio stations, medical offices, builders, bakeries, beauty salons, retail shops, grocery stores, healthcare providers, Insurance companies and restaurants, to name a few — have been thriving in Western New York for decades. Now gaining greater traction with vocal community leaders and partners like Dr. Raul Vazquez at Urban Family practice/GBUAHN, Fernando Martinez at Bank of America, Hilda Rosario Escher at Ibero and Mayor Wilfred Rosa in Dunkirk, local Hispanic business owners are accessing increasing opportunities to work together and reach wider markets.
Dr. Raul Vazquez- Urban Family Practice/ GBUAHN
However, despite this growth, these entrepreneurs face unique challenges and seek educational outlets especially tailored for them.
Hilda Rosario Escher- CEO Ibero
Local and national Banking leader and Vice President at Bank of America, Fernando Martinez has been helping area business by discussing the in and outs of being a Hispanic business and teaming up with new and old business offering resources at his disposal and others like the small business administration and the New York State Department of Economic Development lead locally by Sam Hoyt. While at the same time helping new business with capital and financial literacy to succeed in today’s markets. In Rochester, Hilda Rosario Escher has started with the assistance of area banks, a Micro-lending program and has extended her reach to Buffalo.
Fernando Martinez- Vice President Bank of America
The growth in new and old business can be seen everywhere. In Buffalo’s Allentown District you will find Pasion Latin Cuisine, El Museo, El Buen Amigo, PAUSA Art House, Red Poppy, Casa De Arte, Don Tequila and Gabriel’s. Along the Hispanic Corridor you will find Niagara Café, The Puerto Rican Bakery, Urban Family Practice, Westend Communication, Beaver Liquor, The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, Adujar Asbestos removal, Rodney’s Home Repair, Raíces Theatre Company, Amor and Heritage and West Buffalo Chiropractic to name a few. In Rochester, now the resident have a 24-hour FM radio station and new Hispanic owned business are popping up everywhere in and around the city. In Dunkirk, with the election of its first Hispanic mayor the city is working to increase the number of Hispanic owned business.
Raíces Theatre Company
"Western New York Hispanic community is in growth mode and we intend on bringing new ideas and strategies to make the community succeed said Fernando Martinez”- Vice President for Bank of America. “It’s about leadership”.
The Hispanic business leadership itself has grown in part to meet the needs of the "huge, tremendous growth in Western New York," says Martinez. Since April of 2013, the group of local business owners has grown from 280 to 420 members. “The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well within the Hispanic community, which has been a economic engine for the United States and Western New York". Said Edwin Martinez of Panorama Hispano News. In Western New York these business have created over 2000 jobs for the local economy.
Among the new leaders in the push to create economic benefits for all is Crystal Rodriguez an attorney and chief diversity officer for the City of Buffalo who has been working with area business to increase diversity and encourage sub contracting to minority business, she herself has led workshops in Spanish that cater to Hispanic business owners. Though many may be under the common misconception that these businesses are in the startup stage, Rodriguez says, "they're already successful” and have “already put in the sweat equity." So, instead of explaining basic business principles, Rodriguez presents on topics like the legal implications of various business structures, answering "sophisticated questions from sophisticated business owners," he says.
These workshops span a variety of topics and are usually industry-specific, such as best practices. In addition, Rodriguez and Fernando Martinez are working on educating local business on how to reach consumers outside of their ethnic and language groups.
"[Many] don't know how to break into the larger Western New York market," says Fernando Martinez, whose principal goal is "helping these Hispanic businesses grow inside and outside of their markets."
In addition to seeking ways to break into the wider market, Hispanic business owners face other various challenges. One such obstacle is the language barrier. Many of these entrepreneurs are immigrants or migrants as well and though some have lived in the United States for some time and are proficient in English, they can require certain concepts and terminology defined in their native language. Another such challenge is more strict regulation in creating legal businesses in New York State.