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EDA Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

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Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Hal Williams greets an attendee at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza in 1978.

Hispanic entrepreneurship is vital to the strength of the U.S. economy. Between 2009-2019 the number of Hispanic business owners in the United States surged 34 percent, compared to a one percent increase for all business owners. From its earliest days, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has been at the forefront of efforts to develop a dynamic economic environment that provides a solid foundation for Hispanic commercial success.

Beginning today and continuing through October 15, EDA joins other Department of Commerce bureaus in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. EDA is committed to ensuring the promise of American prosperity is equitably realized through its investments in projects and initiatives designed to generate new economic opportunities for the United States’ Hispanic communities.

Some recent investments include:

  • California: In Fresno County, California, the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) coalition, led by the Central Valley Community Foundation, has been awarded $65.1 million through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge to accelerate the integration of technology and skills in the region’s agriculture industry. Among its key projects is SEMBRA (Supporting Entrepreneurs, Minority Businesses, Restauranteurs & Access), which will provide micro- and nano-loans targeting microenterprises being supported by the Hecho en Fresno network. These specialty loan products will be tailored to the needs of mobile food vendors, food truck operators, small restauranteurs, and small and socially disadvantaged farmers and will be administered by the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation.
  • Florida: Backed by a $22.9 million EDA grant, Florida Gulf Coast University has established the Florida Gulf Coast University Southwest Florida Equitable Jobs Pipeline, which will accelerate credential attainment and job placement in four leading local industries: healthcare, manufacturing, education, and transportation, distribution, and logistics. With a focus on equity, this program will include a recruitment emphasis on Hispanic job seekers into pipelines that result in industry-recognized credentials and a career with local employers.
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    In April, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo (third from left) visited Puerto Rico to promote Blue Economy and economic resiliency efforts.

  • Puerto Rico: Earlier this year, EDA officially certified and recognized the Southern Puerto Rico Economic Development District. It will focus on helping small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs develop a favorable business climate for Puerto Rico’s southern region, an area of roughly 15 towns, with an emphasis on health, tourism, and agriculture.

“This is not only a month to celebrate the achievements of Americans of Hispanic descent, but also to recognize their important contributions to the economic strength and vitality of the United States,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana!”

Follow EDA on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn throughout the next month for updates on EDA observances and activities in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

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