Organizers are on track to form a Hispanic trade association in Lebanon, an effort they say will succeed where others have failed.
While surrounding areas with Hispanic populations have progressed in this region, including Lancaster and Berks counties, Lebanon has not kept pace, Rafael Torres told LebTown.
As one of the organizers, he said the association will be open, not only to Hispanic-owned businesses, but to all businesses where the Hispanic community spends money.
Young entrepreneur Amaury Abreu, owner of Legatux and publisher of community newspaper q’Hubo, said the focus will initially be on Lebanon City. He recognized the diversity among Hispanic-owned businesses, ranging from body shops and restaurants to barbers and accountants.
âThe Hispanic Business Association will unite Hispanic Businesses in the City of Lebanon to create a platform to support, educate, promote and provide resource opportunities with the goal of integrating the Hispanic business community into the Lebanese economy “, according to its mission statement.
There is also a Facebook page, in Spanish; statutes are also being drawn up.
In a recent public meeting, the mayor of Lebanon, Sherry Capello, noted the demographic evolution of the city, which now has 44% of Hispanic population which has increased considerably in recent years.
Jackie Parker, former mayor of Lebanon, is also an organizer.
âThe Hispanic community is a valuable asset in the revitalization of the city,â Parker said in a statement. âWe hope to bring together business leaders to start the process as we navigate the COVID pandemic and more. “
She told LebTown that she, Abreu and Torres started out by walking the streets and asking Hispanic businesses if they were able to get coronavirus relief money. âSome said no,â Parker said.
Read more: Small minority-owned businesses have largely been excluded from Pennsylvania’s first coronavirus loan program
This is where a business association would make a difference.
Read more: Researchers and Advocates Tackle Disproportionate Toll of COVID-19 on Latino Community
Parker said the key is for businesses to commit to becoming members of the association because the owners are already very busy. This is why attempts to form similar organizations have failed, she said. “They start and stop, start and stop …”
The association will contact Community First Fund, she said, a lender that prioritizes women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
Two decades ago, when Parker ruled the city, the number of Hispanic residents was much lower.
What she said that she finds fascinating is the way residential and business models reflect each other.
Many stores, bodegas or restaurants are anchors in the neighborhood, Parker said. People are wondering about the city, how to get a permit, for example.
âThere is a lot of misinformation,â she said, and the association will be an important resource.
Abreu said he sees the association as a marketing and advertising tool. âWe are looking to collaborate with the (Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce). “
The next Hispanic Business Association organizational meeting will be on February 23 at 6 p.m. at Scott Church’s Living Room, located at 39 S. 8th St., Lebanon.
So far, there has been a lack of communication with Lebanon’s Hispanic community from those in power, Torres said. When invited to join the table, their concerns are not taken into account, Torres said.
They got “the cookie crumbs,” he said.
âNow it’s time to create our own table,â he said. âIt’s for the greater good of the community. “
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