Back in February 2015, Fox 5 and Fox News Latino published a series of stories exploring the experiences of Hispanics in America.
These reports still make good reading/listening and in this first edition of the “Our American Dream” series, they discussed Dominican-American business owners and their experiences.
The full video is below, but first here is the full transcript:
Fox5 and our friends at Fox News Latino are teaming up to bring you a special year-long series called “Our American Dream”. It is a unique look at the struggles and successes of Latin Americans in this ever-changing economy, and tonight reporter Bryan Llanes introduces us to some Dominican-Americans who are making waves in the business world.
This is the heart of Dominican business, 181st Street and Broadway. You’ll see that throughout this community there’s just you know, Latino and Dominican businesses located in every inch of this community, and it’s not just in Washington Heights, the number of Hispanic owned businesses in New York City has nearly doubled since the late 1990s.
More than 140 thousand or about one in seven businesses in the Big Apple now owned by Latinos. It’s a national phenomenon. There are more than 3 million Latino-owned businesses in America today, that is up more than 40% since 2007.
The fact is, Hispanics are starting businesses at three times the national rate, fueling the economy, empowering Hispanic families and all while changing Main Street USA. It’s a sign of pride that we are coming here, that we are succeeding in America and here, Washington Heights.
This is an example of what we’re seeing around the country as Latinos are opening businesses. They’re creating businesses, they’re growing businesses and they’re thriving for Dominican-Americans.
Cid Wilson, he has seen firsthand how the power of small business can impact generations of immigrants. “This is the building where my mother and father moved to.” Wilson’s parents immigrated from the Dominican Republic to Washington Heights in the mid-1960s, and together they became one of the first to open a Hispanic medical practice in the neighborhood, right across the street from home. “They were in this corner for about 40 years before they retired and they served generations”.
Wilson credits his parents small business success for helping him become a successful Wall Street investor, who now works to elevate Latinos in corporate America while working to build the nation’s first Latino Museum in Washington DC. “No matter how much we succeed, we always remember where we came from, we always make sure to remember to come back to the community, and we make sure that we remember that as we rise up that ladder, that ladder remains so that others can rise up with us, inspiring the next generation.
Like Juan Camilo, “20 years from now Dyckman beer will be everywhere in the world”. Juan is the owner and founder of the Dyckman beer company. For a year and a half now Juan has been brewing and selling his own craft beers, inspired by the flavors people and the culture of uptown Manhattan.
Every month Juan Camilo travels two and a half hours to New York City. Here to Bloomfield Connecticut, at the Toms local brewery, with ingredients in hands. This is where he brews his own beers and his own dream. At just 29 years old, this Dominican American is the new face of American business.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Juan moved to New York City when he was five years old. He was raised by a single mom, an accomplished city schoolteacher, who encouraged him to pursue his business idea. “My mom juggled a lot of jobs, a lot of things here and there, just to make sure that my sister and I were okay. Now that I’m kind of running my own company, I just don’t even know how she did it.”
Juan began brewing beer at home as a hobby. Experimenting with flavors he grew up with. Today he now uses his Dominican roots as a business advantage, creating seasonal beers with unique flavors. This year he’s releasing six new flavors in about 70 bars, restaurants, and grocery stores throughout New York.
I use fruits and the different foods, that are, you know, are just found in the Dominican Republic or from a Hispanic background, and it’s just what I know. So for me to make beer that’s infused with passion fruit, coffee, cherries, is just something natural for me.
Today he’s brewing a Cafe con Leche beer using the popular coffee, cafe bustelo. “You can see that it’s toasted.” He’s even selling beers in the Dominican Republic and has adopted a popular Dominican catchphrase. “I put on the side of my beer ‘Una Vaina Bien’, and that’s something that, not just in the Dominican Republic, but over Latin America, it just means something delicious, that that’s something awesome, something that’s amazing”.
But as a new generation of Latino business owners emerges, others are trying to keep their doors open. About 20 years ago Ramona Tates was working as a hairdresser in a salon. Today she and her friends are owners of Rossano beauty salon in Washington Heights. She would like to charge more for services but she risks losing her customers.
Despite the astronomical growth of Hispanic businesses around the country, the fact is Hispanic entrepreneurs still face many hurdles. A report last year by Rutgers, Utah State, and Brigham Young Universities, found black and Hispanic entrepreneurs are discriminated against when seeking small business loans from banks.
The study found banks provided far less information about loan terms, offered less application help and ultimately are less likely than whites to get financing. “The biggest challenge is access to capital, which is why you know we need an institution like the Small Business Administration”.
The SBA, now headed by latina Maria Contreras-Sweet sees this issue as the main priority. Over the past year, the SBA has facilitated a record of more than $1.3 billion dollars in loans to Hispanic business owners. The hope is this will help close the giant wealth gap. Today, white households are worth 10 times more than Hispanic families.
“One of the great things about really promoting small business communities is that this is encouraging our communities to use off-financial institutions more frequently. To look at all of the opportunities, to be able to save using financial instruments, whether it’s a 401k plan or other savings plans Roth IRAs”.
Dominicans are the largest foreign-born population in New York City. Dr. Ramona Hernandez of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute says understanding their success and failures can help more recent immigrant groups succeed. “This is not a group that has one leg here and one leg in the Dominican Republic. This is not the case anymore. Every day that passes we have more Dominicans giving birth here and burying their dead right here. So this is it for many Dominicans. They’re part of the city. They have become part of these cities permanently”.
Just as Ramona Savino, she’s been selling Dominican cakes every Friday and Sunday in the same spot for twenty years. Never before has the success of America’s small businesses been so dependent on the success of Hispanic families. Now more than ever, they are one and the same. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, combined with never forgetting where you come from.
“I’m very proud to know him and I’m very proud to be here at Washington Heights”. It’s a formula that will continue to empower our nation’s future. “I’m very proud to be Dominican and going back home and building houses, but we got to build for our grandchildren here. We could become if Obama could become President, then we could have a Latino President.
In New York, Bryan Llanes, Fox 5 News.
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