Michael Alvarez: Program gives Hispanic-operated businesses a shot in the arm
September 21, 2013
Continuing my theme from two weeks ago, I would like to talk more about the Hispanic Connection of Northern Nevada's programs that help the Hispanic populace integrate with Carson City.
One of our most successful programs is Community Ambassadors. It is based at Empire Elementary School, which has a 93 percent Hispanic student body, and the goal is to ensure the children's success in school and engage parents in their child's education while introducing them to the community.
The parents are invited to events throughout the year. Some are socially oriented to give the new parents a comfort level with the community, and some are instructional, such as English as a Second Language or computer classes to empower parents and gain skills for the future.
These parents become mentors for future families entering the community. The program is a collaborative effort among the District Attorney's Office, the Carson City School District and the incredible staff at Empire Elementary.
Having a business background, I am a big believer in small business and the entrepreneurial spirit.
Between 2000 and 2010, more Hispanics opened small businesses in the United States.
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However, their failure rate was higher than most because of several factors, including language barriers, inability to access business resources and lack of planning.
My goal is to be a resource to Hispanic business owners and those who have a dream, to give them resources to be successful with longevity in mind.
Assisting us with this is the Business Resource Innovation Center, an incredible resource led by Michael Salogga, who is a wealth of knowledge for people looking to join the ranks of the self-employed.
To give high school-age future business leaders an opportunity, we developed the Carson Teen Business Project in conjunction with Partnership Carson City.
So here's my elevator pitch: If you ask teens' employers which two qualities they most wish teens had, most will tell you accountability and customer service.
So, how can you teach teens these skills and others all in a microcosm of a business? A hot dog cart! Given that Carson City has so many events throughout the year, we will partner with high school students from Carson High in the culinary arts and business disciplines and hopefully ignite their magnate spirit to become successful.
One of our organization's visions is to be a resource to help Hispanics better themselves.
With that in mind, we host many ESL classes, from adults to just younger children with their parents, teaching them language skills together.
I would like to think of Hispanic Connections as a jack of all trades, master of none — unless, of course, bringing the community together is a mastery.
Michael Alvarez is the director of Hispanic Connection of Northern Nevada.