One local nonprofit is teaming up with leaders in the Latinx community to support a new initiative that will help develop minority-owned businesses in rural areas.
Thea Harvey-Barratt, co-executive director of Holistic Performance Initiative (HPI), says the nonprofit is currently in the process of applying for a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development Grant.
“The program we are working on will work with Latinx immigrants to help them understand the basics of leadership, communication, conflict resolution, as well as business basics like defining their business model and market and understanding U.S. state and local government structures so that they know who to approach for what permits and things like that,” Harvey-Barratt said.
To help facilitate this process, HPI has teamed up with Marcos Almonte Perez, who is a consultant for the group and is helping lead the organization of an advisory council.
“It was his idea to create this advisory council among other people that he knows in the community who will serve as counselors and cheerleaders and connectors between our company and the Latinx community,” Harvey-Barratt said.
Almonte Perez says the advisory council will include a diverse group of people with different employment experiences who will be working to recruit and connect with local businesses.
Harvey-Barratt says they are currently forming their proposal to be submitted in the spring. They hope to begin the program by May or June of 2021 and enroll around 30 entrepreneurs, which could create up to 150 jobs.
Almonte Perez says the program could help address a disparity in the overall population and the number of minority-owned businesses in certain areas.
"We are at a point in this state where the population is going to continue to grow and what we have typically seen is that the Latino population in many places continues to grow, but the number of businesses where the owners are minorities remains quite low," Almonte Perez said. "This initiative will allow us to at least check that and reduce the gap between the population and the number of businesses and companies that have minority owners.”
The group will focus on Limestone and Morgan counties for this program, but they hope to offer this opportunity for more counties in the future.