From consumers to producers, from employees to employers: Latino Economic Development Corp. opens its headquarters in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD – Partners for Community and Latino Economic Development Corp. opened the company’s new headquarters in western Massachusetts yesterday.
“We are Main Street USA,” said Andrew L. Melendez, executive director of Latino Economic Development Corp.
He added that there are 30,000 Latino-owned businesses in Massachusetts.
“And we want to see them shine,” he said.
The Latino Economic Development Corp. grew out of the former Massachusetts Latin American Chamber of Commerce, once headed by current state representative Carlos Gonzalez, D-Springfield.
Gonzalez said the purpose of the center is to help people move from consumers to producers, from employees to employers.
State Senator Adam Gomez told those in attendance that instead of buying chain stores and restaurants, they should find a neighborhood bakery or home food business.
The center at 20 Fort Street will feature 27 coaches on topics ranging from diversity to accounting to psychology, as well as the PeoplesBank business lounge for meetings and networking.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Heriberto Flores, president and CEO of Partners for Community, the management services organization that provides administrative functions and space for affiliates, including Latino Economic Development Corp.
Daniel Knapik, executive director of Partners For Community, said Partners received $300,000 in American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funding for small business grants of $2,000 to $5,000 each to businesses in Holyoke, Springfield and Chicopee. These are available at the center as well as coaching.
State Representative Orlando Ramos, D-Springfield, also secured a $100,000 allocation for the seat in the latest state budget.
“At a time when many of our Latin American businesses are suffering from the aftermath of COVID, this is really necessary,” he said.
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno reminded people that the Fort Street headquarters is the former lottery office, since moved to West Springfield. Only now, Sarno said, is the office where hard work and expertise make dreams come true, not buy a lottery ticket.
Robert Nelson, Massachusetts District Manager for the US Small Business Administration. announced a memorandum of strategic alliance with Latino Economic Development Corporation. It formalizes the SBA’s relationship with the Springfield Group.
“Only by creating partnerships are we going to reach people and people in new markets,” he said.