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Jennifer Rodríguez, President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic of Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Samantha Laub / AL DÍA News (Archives)
Jennifer Rodríguez, President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic of Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Samantha Laub / AL DÍA News (Archives)

Latinos are “an entrepreneurial force” to the U.S. economy, says GPHCC President & CEO Jennifer Rodriguez

The 2021 State of Hispanic Business Forum, held virtually, detailed how Hispanic-owned businesses remain prevalent in the wake of the pandemic and how the City…

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May 27th, 2022

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Each year, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC) takes a deep dive into the trends and issues that impact Latinos in the local and regional economy during its annual State of Hispanic Business Forum. 

This year’s event, held virtually, discussed the impact of Hispanic-owned businesses, the increase of the Latino population in the U.S. and the role the pandemic has played on those businesses and how they are recovering.

Jennifer Rodriguez, president and CEO of the GPHCC, expressed the value Latinos have on the U.S. economy.

“When it comes to having an impact on the U.S. economy, Latinos are far from consumers; we are an entrepreneurial force,” she said.

Latinos are starting businesses at three times the rate of the general population and outpace all other demographic groups, comprising about 40% of diverse businesses.

Rodriguez said that small businesses are the greatest source of employment growth in the U.S. economy, not large corporations like Amazon and Facebook. 

Small businesses with fewer than 250 employees, such as construction firms, coffee shops, auto repair schools, restaurants and grocers are staples in many neighborhoods in our city and represent the majority of the more than 20,000 Latino-owned businesses in the region.

“And if they were to grow modestly just by one or two employees, we could add thousands of jobs in the neighborhoods that need it most,” said Rodriguez.

However, while Latinos are starting businesses at such high rates, the group also represents the demographic with the highest poverty rate, which in Philadelphia is over 40%. 

“We understand that it costs our community when Latino businesses don’t scale up,” said Rodriguez. 

Earlier this month, it was announced that the GPHCC, African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the Asian American Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and the Independence Business Alliance have formed a new partnership, the Diverse Chambers Coalition of Philadelphia (DCCPHL). 

The coalition will focus its efforts on entrepreneurship and growth, collective advocacy on shared economic and social issues, and sharing resources and best practices to help elevate Philadelphia’s economy.

To determine the specific topics to address, the Coalition conducted a joint survey of small business owners in the region.

Some of the common conclusions drawn from the collective data include the fact that more than two-thirds of the businesses employed five or fewer employees, the Business Income & Receipts Tax (BIRT) is a major concern, more than 80% of the businesses produce less than $1 million in annual revenue, and have a need for contracts and grants to help positively impact their businesses.  

“We think that the City of Philadelphia, with their initiatives related to small business development around the equitable ecosystem, and the work that we’re doing are really going to make a difference,” said Rodriguez. 

The goal of the study was to hear the voices and perspectives of the small business community in the region, and the Coalition will be able to provide a platform to give a stronger voice to Latino and diverse business owners in the community. 

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