By Patty Booth O’Neill – The Greater Long Branch Free Public Library held their first Latino Small Business & Entrepreneurship Forum with guest speakers Senator Vin Gopal, Mayor John Pallone and business owners from the Latino community. The purpose of the event was to connect Spanish-speaking small business owners with multiple resources to keep their businesses growing strong.
Library Director Tonya Garcia was impressed by the turnout. “This is the first time we’ve held this event and so many people have showed up. It’s a great way for businesses who offer services and business owners to connect,” she said.
Business advisor Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes is head of the Monmouth County Small Business Center at Brookdale Communtiy College. She provides the small business community with assistance to ensure they achieve their desired levels of success on all levels.
Business owners spoke about their experience as Latinos starting a new business in America. Carlos Reynolds of Barrio Antiguo, a Multi Service Agency drove his point home, perhaps surprising many with the seriousness of his view. “You have to leave the old way of thinking behind when you come to America,” he said. He spoke about how it used to be when when someone from Mexico came to America to reach their dreams but were expected to pay off their family’s debt. “If you come to America with your family you have to let go of the old way. Your responsibility is your family here, not to some uncle in Mexico who owes money,” he said.
Saul Galindo of Galindo’s Kitchen in Long Branch spoke about his experience starting a new restaurant, how no one wants to work these days and making sure is business successful. His main goal is pleasing all of his customers. Galindol brought food from his restaurant to the delight of everyone at the event.
The Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce was happy to be part of the networking event. “I handed out a lot of information today,” said Director Ally Martin. “I was thrilled to meet so many business owners from the Latino community.”
“So many people came together to make this a success,” said Tonya. “I am definitely looking forward to holding another one.”