The Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced the creation of committee that serves Latino businesses and the Latino population in Jonesboro. Latino Business Committee chairman Alex Lorenzana tells more.
“This committee was created to help and support the Latino businesses in our area,” said Lorenzana. “Every year, we lost from three to five Latino businesses just because they didn’t have all of the tools that were necessary to stay in business. We want to be able to reach to these people and give them the tools for their success.”
The idea for forming a Latino Business Committee started about six months ago, and Lorenzana says today, there are about 12 to 15 members on the committee. He hopes to see more people join the committee.
“We’re inviting Latino business, but we are also inviting those who hire Latinos. Our success is not just in inviting Latino businesses, but inviting everyone who wants to make a change and wants to make a stronger community. When we express about the Latino community in Jonesboro, we don’t want to express those businesses as just Latino businesses and a Latino community. We want to see this as part of the community as a whole. We want Latinos to be a part and not feel left out. That is one of the purposes of this committee, to make them part of this community.”
Lorenzana tells about the different challenges Latino businesses can face today.
“One of our challenges is there are a lot of Latino business owners that move to the United States, and they didn’t have a lot of education in their country. Education is one of the reasons why they would move here. They lack knowledge of financing and marketing strategies for their business. We want to provide them with education on these areas. That is why there are so many Latino businesses that may close their doors. One of our challenges with that is getting everyone to come together and join us. That is our biggest challenge, because not everyone will want to sit down and learn about us. Our hope is that we can have discussions with more people so they can learn all of these things.”
He tells how many Latinos are in Jonesboro and the surrounding area.
“In the Jonesboro area, there are about 20,000 Latinos. We also have counted at least 70 businesses. If you were to count cleaning and construction businesses, that number would be much higher. It is very important that we educate this community on different levels of business, because they are a big part of our economy.”
He says as Jonesboro continues to grow, more Latinos will move into the area.
“Jonesboro is constantly growing, especially right now where there are new construction sites. That is bringing more people to the area. Arkansas has the second largest growing Latino population in the nation. That does not mean we have the second largest number of Latinos in the state, which means we are growing faster than other states. We have to be able to have programs that will benefit the new people and new businesses that are moving to Jonesboro."
Lorenzana says he is has received a lot of support from city officials and the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce for this committee. Lorenzana hopes to eventually have as many as 30 members on the committee and believes this committee could bring the community together. The committee is expected to host numerous events over the next year, including a Latino Business Expo that is expected to occur next year.