Crossroads to Customers, Capital, and Contracts

Latin Business Today and the Westchester County Government Host Hispanic Business-Development Forum

Latino Small Business Owners Celebrated In Westchester

Westchester County Government in partnership with Latin Business Today invited Hispanic business owners to attend a small business forum on May 29 at Westchester Community College. The event gave business owners an opportunity to network, learn about building relationships with customers, find and manage capital as well as navigate contracts. In attendance were senior business leaders, government representatives, guest speakers, educators and 100 participants, which included small business owners, their employees and prospective business owners.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino welcomed guests to the forum.

“Small businesses are the forefront of job creation and economic development for Westchester County,” said Astorino. “In fact, nearly 10 percent of all Westchester businesses are Hispanic-owned, and that number continues to grow each year. Please know the county is here to help in whatever way we can.”

Opportunity to Learn from Established Experts

Free and open to the public this first-time event included an opportunity to learn from a six-member panel of small business advisors and experts. Panel moderator Senen Garcia, an attorney and mentor with SCORE (a nonprofit organization that provides U.S. entrepreneurs with free business mentoring services) lead a distinguished panel of experienced experts.

 

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The panel included:
Franco Cabral, senior vice president, AdCorp Media Group; Shaun Asbury, vice president, commercial lending with TD Bank in Purchase; Kim Jacobs, executive director, Community Capital New York; Elias Mendoza, vice president, Siris Capital; Jim Coleman, liaison officer, Westchester County, Minority and Women Business Enterprise; and Stella Vida, CPA and principal, Hart Vida Raffo. As the moderator, Garcia made a point of reminding everyone that the first step to marketing is networking and encouraged an active conversation.

Managing Finances a Hot Topic

“Develop creative and professional capital pitches to help secure financing.”

In the current economic climate, many small business owners have concerns about access to capital financing. For some turning to family and friends is a viable source of financing, but it brings with it concerns. Kim Jacobs, executive director of Community Capital New York urged business owners to always prepare written agreements when seeking financial help from family and friends. She also reminded business owners to consider reaching out to equity investors and non-traditional lenders.

Shaun Asbury, vice president of commercial lending with TD Bank in Purchase, reminded everyone that TD Bank focuses on helping small businesses find suitable financing solutions. Jim Coleman, liaison officer for Westchester County Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise, emphasized the value of presenting a strong business plan with a good and interesting pitch. He also stressed the importance of including a multimedia strategy, which he stated is the “new normal”, before developing a capital proposal.

The panellists also advised the small business owners that hiring an accounting firm is always a healthy investment. CPA and principal, Hart Vida Raffo explained that business owners cannot always accurately understand what lenders expect; therefore, a professional accountant may prevent later crises. She also suggested that business owners should understand simple accounting by using software such as QuickBooks and Peachtree. Kim Jacobs from Community Capital New York told the audience about Community Capital’s hands-on training program to learn QuickBooks.