Gilberto Perez Jr. pulls three business cards from his shirt pocket: one for a tuxedo-rental store, another for a florist and the third for a ballet folkorico group. All are Latino-owned businesses located in Goshen.Many of the local businesses in the Goshen and Elkhart County area are owned by Latinos — the Latino population of Goshen is approximately 29 percent, while Elkhart County is around 15 percent.
Perez, dean of students at Goshen College, points at the cards and says, “What would happen if Goshen College offered adult [business] education to these individuals? …We’d be building up the next generation of entrepreneurs for our community that will move the economy and move this community to a better place.”
And that is just what Goshen College is doing in collaboration with community and regional partners.
On Oct. 17, the Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, called “Innovative Entrepreneurs” or “Empresarios Innovadores,” hosted their first free workshop. The workshop, focused on providing Latino business-owners with education, kicked off the beginning of a collaboration between Goshen College, the Center for Healing and Hope, Goshen and Elkhart Chambers of Commerce, 1st Source Bank, Centier Bank, the Business Diversity Initiative from Elkhart and Chicago’s Mexican Consulate.
The program is a culmination of months of hard work. It all began this past spring, when the