LatinX Business Librarian at Poudre River Public Library
How do you help businesses in our community?
My role is to focus on LatinX businesses within our community. A business can contact me through the Poudre Library’s website, where they can fill out a form to request a meeting with me. More importantly, I work through referrals, collaborating with various local nonprofits in the Northern Colorado region to meet and engage with businesses. I help Fort Collins businesses and entrepreneurs get started and grow to be successful. I guide them through the process of creating a company, obtaining their EIN, establishing their marketing strategy, and much more. I have created YouTube videos in Spanish to help entrepreneurs and businesses here locally in Fort Collins.
During the pandemic, I have worked with LatinX businesses throughout all of Colorado. Starting in March through May, I was answering questions for the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade hotline. If someone needed help in Spanish they would be directed to me. I would get about 4-5 calls each day from businesses that had all sorts of questions, with most needing help accessing loans and assistance applying for unemployment.
Among the businesses that you work with, what are you noticing that they need the most right now to succeed?
They need information. 80% of the people I help and work with need assistance in Spanish because there can be a big language barrier when looking for resources. Sometimes they qualify for the loan programs but they might not know where to go for help, and many do not have a relationship with banks. To easily apply for the Payroll Protection Program Loan (PPP) they must have an established relationship with a bank. These businesses need guidance from the beginning, so they can structure their business to prepare for emergencies. There’s also a big technology gap – many don’t have access to a lot of the technology used today in business. LatinX populations have been hit especially hard during the pandemic. It has impacted them and their health, but also economically and socially. There has been a big impact on the community and I’ve been trying to provide guidance so LatinX businesses can survive.
What type of businesses do you especially enjoy working with?
During my work within the last five months I’ve come to appreciate all the small entrepreneurs – all the cleaning people, the gardeners, the painters – the workers that don’t have an establishment but do mostly contract work. They are the hardest working people as they continue to search for work for themselves. When everyone talks about heroes working in the healthcare field, it’s crucial to remember are many frontline workers that are unrecognized or forgotten. These entrepreneurs have been my favorite to work with.
What’s your favorite part of Fort Collins?
I moved to Fort Collins in 1998 after getting a job at HP as a software engineer. I worked there for more than seven years and eventually became a manager. After HP I opened a Mexican restaurant and had that for ten years until my wife and I decided to travel the world. After 5 years of semi-retirement we came back to Fort Collins.
I like the Fort Collins community. I enjoy walking around Old Town because it has a great environment. When I had my Mexican restaurant a variety of people would come in and everyone was so nice. Fort Collins feels like a close community, and I love the energy that the students from CSU bring to town.