Latino-owned businesses struggle to recover from COVID-19 shutdown

PASCO, Wash. – Several businesses in Pasco, which are primarily owned by Latinos, have struggled to stay afloat after closing down.

“They’re small, mom and pop, and retail, were inordinately impacted negatively,” Mario Valadez said.

Stores, like Ana Barrera’s, who sells dresses for large parties like weddings and quinceañeras, are now open, but business hasn’t been the same.

“It hasn’t made me feel very good, it makes me feel sad sometimes,” she said.

Barrera isn’t alone. She said most of her friends, who own businesses are barely getting by the sales they do make.

After realizing how much these Latino-owned businesses were struggling, the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce stepped in.

“Physical resources, help them apply for funds, and also provide guidance and technical support,” President Mario Valadez listed how they’re helping.

Valadez felt Latino business owners weren’t able to access the help they need because of cultural barriers or lack of information distribution.

“There have been a lot of Latino, particularly Spanish-speaking business owners who have not been able to access some of those loans, some of those grants; they didn’t even know about it,” Valadez said.

At the chamber, Valadez and his team have offered assistance over the phone and in person, with proper social distancing guidelines in place. He said people have been surprised about the amount of funding available for businesses.

Valadez said there’s been a high infection rate in Franklin County, but a low death rate. He attributed this to the lines of work and businesses the Latino population own.

“Many Latino workers are essential workers they have to be out there in the fields, in the warehouses and in the retail shops, grocery stores, cashiers right,” he said.

For months, Barrera’s retail store closed down which caused her to loose money and hope.

“It has affected me very much, it’s hectic, people don’t go out, business is really slow, very slow. We want more people to know that we’re open because many people don’t know we’re open,” she said.

Luckily, there is still help available for businesses that need it, Latino or non-Latino owned.

To learn more visit the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce website or Facebook.