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Photo Credit: Latino Coalition of Haverhill.
Photo Credit: Latino Coalition of Haverhill.

Latino Coalition of Haverhill looks to form association for diverse businesses

The Massachusetts-based nonprofit recently received a grant from the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, which will go toward building the association.

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The Latino Coalition of Haverhill, a nonprofit that seeks to empower and inspire Haverhill Latinos to be active in their community, is currently in the early stages of launching a new association for diverse-owned businesses in the region.

Earlier this year, the Coalition sought a grant from the United Way of Massachusetts Bay to help diverse small businesses obtain financial support, such as low-interest rate loans from local CDFIs.

“To get these small businesses to take the next step is a challenge to make a change, and with COVID it became obvious that many businesses received money but minority businesses I know of didn’t receive it,” Kathy Rurak, secretary of the coalition’s board of directors, told The Eagle-Tribune

The recent grant support the Coalition received will help these small businesses as it seeks to build an association.

Argenis Marte, president of the Coalition and owner of Jacqueline’s, an auto repair shop in Haverhill, noted that the $15,000 grant will help hire a part-time worker to visit businesses and encourage them to join the association.

He noted that the hired individual should be someone who has a good understanding of the Latino business community, as well as its needs and barriers to growth. 

“We want minority businesses to be part of us. Our main mission is to empower residents to be active participants in the community,” said Marte. 

The idea of the association is to bring together the city’s 50 to 100 diverse businesses to promote their goods and services, advocate for and assist them with applying for grants and other opportunities they may not be aware of, and assist them in cases where a language barrier may prevent them from accessing available programs. 

The Latino Coalition of Haverhill prioritizes empowering and inspiring Haverhill Latinos to be active participants in every facet of the community. 

According to U.S. Census data, Hispanics and Latinos make up about 23.4% of the Haverhill population.

The association is also encouraging Latino business owners in the region to partner with the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and the city of Haverhill to explore the economic impact of Latino businesses in the city.

“When we had our celebration in January to recognized our community accomplishments, eight minority-owned businesses joined us to promote the event. We want more businesses to join with us,” added Marte. “We’re trying to be a hub for these businesses.” 

The United Way of Massachusetts Bay announced 17 organizations as part of its first round of new strategic investments totaling $255,000.

The grants are intended to affect local change and expand one of four avenues to economic prosperity: economic inclusion and wealth building, early education and out-of-school time programs, education and career pathways for youth and young adults, and safe and stable housing. 

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