As Philadelphia gears up for the next mayoral election, the city faces critical challenges, including economic disparities and a growing need for social equity. One of the critical areas the next mayor should prioritize is the development of BIPOC small businesses. These enterprises are not just essential for individual economic growth but also play a pivotal role in fostering stronger communities and a more inclusive and thriving Philadelphia.
Addressing economic disparities
Philadelphia, like many major cities in the United States, grapples with significant economic disparities. BIPOC owned businesses, and Hispanic-owned businesses in particular, start smaller and remain smaller, even as they mature due to obstacles in accessing funding, resources, and opportunities. Prioritizing their development is a crucial step in bridging this gap. By offering support to Latino/a owned businesses, the city can uplift our community, build wealth, thus creating a more equitable economic landscape.
Investing in Latino/a owned small businesses is not just about economics; it is also about strengthening the city’s neighborhoods. When Latino-owned businesses succeed, they often reinvest in their communities. They hire from within their communities, ensuring that job opportunities are accessible to everyone. When they thrive, they reinvest in the neighborhoods, whether it is through local sponsorships, partnerships, or support for community programs. For example, A&I Securities, a family-owned business, is fully committed to our youth. The owners established La Liga del Barrio, the first Hispanic basketball league in Philadelphia. Successful small businesses can lead to more vibrant, engaged, and safer neighborhoods.
Yet, small business owners report that Philadelphia has a long road ahead before it is perceived as welcoming to small businesses. According to surveys from the Diverse Chambers Coalition, (diversechambersphl.org), entrepreneurs are challenged by the high cost of doing business, the complexity of doing business, and the lack of cleanliness and safety. The next mayor must recognize this and prioritize creating an environment in which these businesses can grow and flourish.
The Latino small business agenda
The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce advocates for Latino/a owned businesses in the region. Its Latino Small Business Agenda prioritizes the issues that matter most to Hispanic entrepreneurs. The chamber’s an annual policy agenda will be presented at the annual State of Hispanic Business Forum. The event drives strategic discussions that can serve as the baseline that stakeholders can use to form sound investments in programs and in solutions that will meet the challenges the Latino business community faces. This year, the event will take place Nov. 1, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at WHYY Studios. The event is open to the public. Tickets are available at philahispanicchamber.org. Chamber members can attend free of charge.
Jennifer Rodriguez, MCP, is President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.