Supporting local and Hispanic businesses in San Antonio
The SA Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is the first and largest non-profit organization of its size. Leaders say this year the tasks may have changed, but his mission has remained the same.
SAN ANTONIO – The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of San Antonio is the oldest and largest such organization in the country, making its mark in the town of Alamo by championing small businesses, fostering relationships and highlighting local successes.
In a new episode of Commerce Street, an Eyewitness News Original podcast, KENS 5 spoke with Marina Gonzales, president and CEO of SAHCC and owner of one of the chamber’s client businesses, Mexico Lindo, a restaurant which opened during the pandemic.
“It’s such a great city to have a Hispanic bedroom because of these statistics which show you that the majority of our small businesses here are family businesses, legacy organizations, that exist from generation to generation,” Gonzales said. .
Gonzales was appointed to this role in July 2020, starting the role in a time of turmoil for many companies. The SAHCC has pivoted to provide the new services needed, while maintaining programming aligned with its pillars: education, small businesses, economic development, leadership and international trade. They distributed personal protective equipment to businesses, worked to increase consumer confidence across the market, and held information sessions to guide businesses through the grant application and funding processes. sorry.
“Over 70 percent of our 900+ members are small businesses that operate here locally and not all of them have a full back office team to focus on these applications and the time and labor required to access these kinds of resources.” , said Gonzales. “So our job is to channel all of this information, make sure it’s very accessible, jump into a 30-minute Zoom – this is important content to us that our members have requested and that we have been able to adhere to.”
At least one to study shows that Hispanic-owned businesses received Paycheck Protection Program funding at a lower rate than white-owned businesses. Gonzales says this follows a trend that groups like SAHCC are working to correct.
“What we’ve seen traditionally is access to capital at the end of the day – it’s access to funds and resources to continue,” Gonzales said. “You might not have that long standing line of credit with your bank or your relationship with a traditional financial institution, or as a small business owner you wear many hats – you are the finance officer, the first, down to warehouse and shipping and everything in between and so what we want is to make sure that is known. We have a gap in terms of being able to meet loan needs and lending, to access capital, and that is due to many factors. “
The organization is also working to raise awareness of local businesses like member Mexico Lindo, which opened during the pandemic but aimed to put consumers at ease enough to continue dining out.
“I remember getting together as a family in Mexico, whether in a restaurant or a home, and being very lively, great fun, very open and family oriented. That’s what we wanted. do here, ”said owner OT Mendez. “We want you to be as comfortable as possible going out, spending time with a friend, family member or business associate.”
Mendez says becoming a SAHCC member has helped Mexico Lindo navigate new business start-ups and the challenges of the coronavirus.
“It’s pretty priceless. Sometimes we get so engrossed in running the business and think, ‘we have to do everything differently’ – well, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel,” said Mendez. “There are a lot of resources – instead of taking ten steps, they help you take 2 or 3. And meeting other business owners helps you assess the economic situation in the city right now.”
Mendez encourages visitors to patronize at their own pace, whether dining on-site or ordering take-out from local restaurants.
“Be safe, be kind, above all, we all have our moments of change – day to day is something different – be patient with service, with your co-workers, with your family, just be patient with everything what’s going on and be as kind and careful as you can, but don’t forget to live, ”Mendez said.
Gonzales says any small business can join the Chamber, and San Antonians who wish to sponsor their members can find a directory here.
“We encourage everyone to buy local, support local, and you can go to our website and see all of our members by area,” Gonzales said. “Even if you are not a member of the Hispanic chamber but want to support a Hispanic owned business, go to our website and connect with a supplier.”
You can read more about Mexico Lindo here.