BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Throughout the Borough, more and more Latino-owned small businesses are experiencing similar problems, despite the efforts of the City and local community organizations.
One major issue is a lack of networking between business owners and the available organizations that provide assistance.
Woodside on the Move is a nonprofit organization that has been working to promote the advancement of local businesses since 1976. They host two business expos every year, as well as its annual Taste of Woodside, which brings together local restaurants to showcase their food.
Adrian Bordoni, executive director of Woodside on the Move, said there are several organizations business owners can turn to for unique ideas and advice, such as SCORE and the Small Business Development Center at LaGuardia Community College.
“A lot of Latinos have businesses in the family, but they come to America and it’s a completely different world,” Bordoni said.
New business owners encounter high rents, a lot of paperwork and health inspections and fines that they may not have expected. They may also experience a community that is not too welcoming with parking issues, violations for unsanctioned use of backyards and maintenance on the 7 train.
“Sometimes you have the best ideas and business models but the location is tough,” Bordoni said. “Their product may not translate well into other communities.”
Bordoni said there can also be issues with language barriers with other nationalities and neighboring communities. Another factor is the months of winter where they experience a slowdown in business.
Long Island City has The Entrepreneur’s Space, an incubator for food and business that offers counseling, office and kitchen space to assist local businesses with some of these issues. There is also the New York district office of the Small Business Administration that offers micro loans to business owners.
Bordoni said the main issue is that they need to know they have access to these loans and services.
“The possibilities are there,” he said. “I think it’s just an issue of getting it out for the Hispanic community.”
Alfonso Quiroz, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens, agreed that the information is out there, but there are recurring issues among business owners.
“Either they’re not getting out there for the information or they don’t trust where it’s coming from,” Quiroz said. “That’s the struggle that we find and that’s part of why we’re doing what we do.”
Quiroz said one other specific challenge is having access to capital, especially business owners with five to 10 employees.
“Some of them can be new to the country; they’ve got no credit history,” he said. “They’re not documenting revenue and expenses properly.”
The City has been trying to reach out to them to pull them out of their community to find out more info, but sometimes they’re afraid to get out of their own comfort zones. Accessing information online can also be too much of a hurdle for a lot of them, Quiroz said.
“They’re extremely hard working people and they really want their business to be a success,” he said. “They work long hours and it’s hard for them to get someone to cover for them so they can leave the business.”
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.
A Resource Guide For Small Business Owners
New York City SCORE
26 Federal Plaza, Suite 3100, New York, NY 10278
SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Their work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration and due to their network of 11,000 volunteers they are able to deliver their services at no charge or at very low cost. They provide mentors, free confidential business counseling in person or via email, free business tools, templates and tips online and inexpensive or free business workshops locally and online.
Small Business Administration New York District Office
26 Federal Plaza, Suite 3100, New York, NY 10278
Ph: (212) 264-4354, Fax: 212-264-4963
The Small Business Administration offers a variety of loan programs. While it does not make loans directly, it provides a guarantee for loans that are made by a lender. SBA has resource partners such as SCORE, Small Business Development Center and Women’s Business Centers that provide additional business counseling and training. It also offers business resources to help owners start or grow a business in their area.
LaGuardia Small Business Development Center
30-20 Thomson Ave., B309, Long Island City, NY 11101
Ph: (718) 482-5303, Fax: (718) 609-2091
The LaGuardia Small Business Development Center provides entrepreneurs with free, one-on-one professional counseling for existing and start-up businesses in English, Spanish, Korean and three dialects of Chinese. Areas of advising include how to start a business, legal requirements, business and financial planning, marketing, business expansion, assistance with franchises, international trade and more.
The Entrepreneur’s Space
3646 37th St., Long Island City, NY 11101
The Entrepreneur’s Space is an incubator that assists small businesses with office space and a commercial kitchen. The space also provides technical assistance and counseling to those businesses.