Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Sen. Pavel Payano provides opening remarks at the iHub Haverhill's Latino business event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
State Sen. Pavel Payano provides opening remarks at the iHub Haverhill's Latino business event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

By Stephanie Guyotte

More than 100 Latino business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals recently gathered at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub Haverhill, a business incubator and coworking space, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at an event dedicated to empowering Latino small business owners. Co-hosted by ALPFA Boston with support from the US Small Business Administration, this event exemplified the Hispanic Heritage Month themes of prosperity, power, and progress.

State Sen. Pavel Payano, who represents Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen, kicked off the expo event highlighting the importance of economic success within the Latino community. Throughout the day, attendees engaged with industry experts who shared invaluable insights, advice, and strategies related to small business growth, challenges, and opportunities.

In the first panel discussion, “Unlocking Financial Opportunities for Latino Small Businesses,” moderated by Lisa Gonzalez Welch from the SBA, lenders Jose Abreu from Eastern Bank, Jesus Suriel from Enterprise Bank, and Saul Pena from Mill Cities Community Investments discussed financial resources available to Latino entrepreneurs. Their insights provided a roadmap for securing financial support to grow small businesses. The speakers encouraged attendees to do their homework, research banks and lenders, and get their own records and bookkeeping in order. “Look who is in this room,” Abreu said. “These institutions chose to be there and be part of this event because they support the small business community. These are the institutions you want to do business with.”

The second panel, “Working Capital – Success Stories from Local Business Owners,” moderated by Isis Ortiz, the President of the Association of Latino Professionals for America, showcased successful entrepreneurs. Wendy Luzon of Casabe Foods, Argenis Marte from Jaqueline's Auto Service, Andreina Viera Silva of Arka HR, and Diomaris Pimentel from Dio's Accounting Services shared their journeys and the key strategies that led to their businesses' achievements. Their stories were both inspiring and actionable for those seeking to achieve similar success.

Building relationships was a central theme of both panels, with lenders urging attendees to get to know their bankers and other partners.

Throughout the event, more than a dozen financial institutions and community lending organizations were available to meet with business owners and entrepreneurs. This created a unique opportunity for participants to explore financial solutions that could support their business endeavors, discover new tools and resources, and form potential partnerships.

“The room was full of excitement as we saw these connections being made,” said Stephanie Guyotte, Associate Director of the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub Haverhill. “Great things happen in a room full of people who care about small businesses and the success of entrepreneurs in the Merrimack Valley. With this unique collaboration of traditional financial institutions and community non-profits that support entrepreneurs, we are in a great position to fuel Latino small business growth in our communities.”

Event participants included: Eastern Bank, Enterprise Bank, M&T Bank, Pentucket Bank, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, Reading Bank, SBA, SCORE, EforAll Merrimack Valley, Lawrence Partnership, Amplify Latinx, Arka HR, ALPFA Boston, Small Business Development Center, and Mill Cities Community Investments.