Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15th to October 15th. It’s scheduled for this time of the year because September 15th is the independence day for Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua Guatemala and El Salvador. In addition, September 16th is Mexican Independence day and September 18th is Chilean Independence Day.

According to the US Census Bureau, 3.1% of residents of Cayuga County (or about 2,400 people) are of Hispanic origin. Many of these Hispanics are immigrants, and according to the National Immigration Forum, immigrants are twice as likely to start a business as the US-born population. Nationally, one out of seven small businesses in the US is owned by Hispanic entrepreneurs, the fastest growing segment of business owners in the United States. The Cayuga Economic Development Agency (CEDA) has been hard at work finding new ways to connect with these entrepreneurs.

One soon-to-be-open Hispanic-owned business CEDA has been working with recently is Casa Latinas at 55 Market Street in Auburn. This small market will carry a mix of imported and US-made products of interest to Hispanic and non-Hispanic clientele that can’t easily be found in Auburn’s current grocery stores. They’ll have various products from Latin-American countries, including snack foods, drinks, dried beans, canned goods, herbs and spices, breads, cheeses, processed meats, frozen food items and produce.  Casa Latinas will also provide Western Union money-sending services. Owners Elizabeth and Robert Quezada have been business owners in the past, but owning a grocery store is new to them, so CEDA has been helping them navigate the required licensing and permitting processes. They also plan to accept SNAP benefits and WIC once they are approved to do so, so CEDA has been assisting them through these processes as well. Casa Latinas plans to open in mid-October, in time to celebrate the end of Hispanic Heritage Month.

CEDA works closely with the Auburn branch of SCORE, a national organization of volunteer business mentors. In addition to SCORE’s long-time web-based resources for small business owners, SCORE has recently added the Hispanic Business Owner’s Hub (https://www.score.org/hispanic-owned-business). This website contains a number of videos, webinars and articles information specific to Hispanic business owners in both English and Spanish.

CEDA works with businesses of all types in Cayuga County. Our Specialists offer free and confidential assistance. If you or someone you know is interested in starting or growing a business here in Cayuga County, please reach out to CEDA to see how we can help. Call (315) 252-3500.

Derek Simmonds is the Business Development Specialist at CEDA and a SCORE Mentor.
Published in the September 24, 2020, edition of The Citizen.