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Latino Business and Economic Development Center Supports Entrepreneurship, Leadership in Grand Rapids, Lakeshore Communities

Carlos Sanchez

Ferris State University’s commitment to the Hispanic community’s business and professional development continues with programs in Grand Rapids and Lakeshore areas, as offered by the Latino Business and Economic Development Center. Pictured here is Carlos Sanchez, director of the Latino Business and Economic Development Center.

The Latino Business and Economic Development Center of Ferris State University is embarking on another year of program offerings benefiting budding entrepreneurs and leaders of Grand Rapids and neighboring lakeshore communities.

LBEDC Director Carlos Sanchez said while their offices are in the Kendall College of Art and Design campus, they welcomed a new cohort for Emprende Tuesday, Aug. 23, at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.

“This is an offering focused on the Latino community in Grand Rapids and neighboring areas like the city’s suburbs, Holland and Muskegon,” Sanchez said. “We intend to give those participants who seek to open their own business the resources to do that successfully.”

Sanchez said a goal of Emprende’s first three is to bring their cohort into a proper mindset to establish and present their business to the community.

“There is a great deal of personal obligation for those store owners, service providers or other entrepreneurs when they declare themselves open for business,” Sanchez said. “We make sure they are well versed in areas like marketing their products or services, proper accounting for the operation and awareness of permitting issues that may apply, so there is no confusion or difficulty in those early weeks and months.”

The Emprende program continues for seven weeks, with business coaches assigned to the participants for a greater focus on the proposed business or service.

“These are weekly sessions offered at the Hispanic Center, with full intention to show these new business leaders how to begin their journey with confidence and market awareness,” Sanchez said. “We have offered Emprende for five years, with previous participants coming back to share their entrepreneurial experiences, with some of them serving as business coaches.”

The LBEDC is preparing for its 10th year of providing LEADeres training, or leadership sessions, one Saturday each month.

“This professional development curriculum uses John Maxwell’s ‘5 Levels of Leadership,’ along with other principles to help our participants develop their abilities in community engagement,” Sanchez said. “The Hispanic Center building is a familiar location for our Grand Rapids participants. In addition, we offer LEADeres in Holland for those in Holland, Zeeland, Muskegon and Grand Haven.”

Sanchez noted a significant Hispanic population in Newaygo and Oceana Counties that could benefit from LBEDC programs. He is encouraged by discussions that have taken place to financially support their arrival in Fremont, though the collaboration has not yet become official.

“We have made a strong case to our prospective partner as to the need for such learning in that area,” Sanchez said. “We are very hopeful that the opportunity comes about to offer help in that region.”