By: Idaliz Ortiz
In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week to recognize the rich culture and contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean.
Just two decades later, lawmakers expanded the observance to a month-long celebration, stretching from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
Hispanic Heritage Month – like its shorter precursor – always starts on Sept. 15, a historically significant day that marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
When we think of the contributions from Latinos we easily remember big names like singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, singer Selena, journalist and TV anchor Jorge Ramos, actress Salma Hayek, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, fashion designer Carolina Herrera, Olympic gold medalist in boxing Oscar de la Hoya and so many more… But right here in our own backyard Latinos are contributing to our economy and quality of life through the work they do every day through their small businesses.
The United States has 30 million small businesses, which truly are the engines of our nation’s economy. Hispanic and Latino firms were concentrated in construction (15% of businesses), administrative/support/waste management and remediation services (14% of businesses), and health care and social assistance (10% of businesses).
Moreover, the latest research from the National Women’s Business Council, nearly 1.5 million of them are owned by Hispanic women. Research also shows Latinas are especially successful as entrepreneurs. According to the last report published by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, women own 36% of all businesses; among Hispanic-owned businesses, that share rises to 44%. On average, Latina-owned businesses that employ workers create an average of seven jobs and have $766,000 in annual sales.
These achievements are impressive when you consider it is often hard for them to gain access to capital. Yet they are making progress.
For this reason and in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month GWHCC would like to celebrate and invite you to experience all the wonderful food, culture and growth the Hispanic-owned businesses in the DMV has to offer.
Idaliz Ortiz is a Puerto Rican former multimedia journalist. She received a GLAAD award in 2017 for Spanish Programing - Special Feature, and was twice nominated for a Capital Emmy Award. She is currently the GWHCC Director of Marketing and Communications. Feel free to email her at email@example.com