Hispanic business is focus of new UWM-based initiative

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The Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education has developed El Centro Empresarial – The Hispanic Entrepreneurial Center.
The center will be formally introduced at a free community event March 5, from 5 to 8:30 p.m., at the United Community Center, 1028 S. 9th. St., Milwaukee.
Nelson Soler, a program director at the school, will oversee the new center.
"Our purpose is very clearly stated in our motto: Supporting Economic Strength through Hispanic Entrepreneurs," Soler said. "But the effect of this program is not limited to one segment of the community. The more stable and strong the Hispanic business community is, the healthier the economy is for the entire area."
In Wisconsin, 3,020 Hispanic- owned businesses generate more than $800 million in annual sales, and in Milwaukee the numbers are 750 businesses generating $193 million. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of the seven-county southeastern Wisconsin area rose 7%. Over that same time period, the Hispanic population in the city of Milwaukee nearly doubled.
Lucy Holifield, director of the UWM Small Business Development Center, says that growing an already impressive Hispanic business community in Milwaukee is the goal of the initiative. "There are many successful and thriving businesses out there. What we want to do is to help develop new ventures by supporting emerging entrepreneurs in the Hispanic community."
The March 5 kick-off event will feature presentations by Hispanic business owners and other community representatives. A resource fair will feature information from the state Department of Commerce and other financial resources. The resource fair also will feature information and advice from lawyers, bankers and others involved in the process of starting a new business.
Persons interested in attending the free March 5 kick-off are asked to RSVP by Feb. 15 to Soler at 414-227-3105 or nsoler@uwm.edu.

Feb. 6, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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