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Latino businesses in the valley among those most affected by the coronavirus slowdown

Latino-owned businesses across the valley, including in the Gypsum Creek Center, have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kathy Bodner | Special to the Daily

This article has been translated from its original Spanish version.

There are approximately 4.4 million Latino-owned businesses in the United States, a number that generates more than $700 billion in revenue for the U.S. economy, according to a study by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the country’s economy, wiping out some of the most vulnerable businesses and leaving property owners on edge in the face of uncertainty about what will happen in the future.

Kathy Bodner, professional masseuse and owner of Mayan Spa in Gypsum, had to temporarily close the doors of her business after almost two years in operation because it is not considered an essential business. According to Bodner, 80% of her clients were Latino.

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“As soon as all this happened, I sent them [to the store owners] to say: If this closes, I think I won’t be able to pay the rent because I don’t have any income,” Bodner said.

In the same way, Alma Ramos, owner of La Tijera Unisex Salon in Gypsum, has seen her business negatively impacted by the virus.

According to Ramos, in just the first week of March, her clientele was down 90%. For the second week, the salon had to close its doors.

“When they announced the help for small businesses, I as a Hispanic do not have a level of English, so I missed that help,” she said. “My business does not have any help; I am paying all the expenses from the little reserve I had.”

‘Support small business’

Chris Romer, president of the Vail Valley Partnership, the Eagle County regional chamber of commerce, has seen a significant effect on the local economy.

“The virus has severely impacted the economy. It was on the news for a bit and then quickly escalated. When the ski slopes closed and when they essentially closed the economy at the state level, it made a huge impact on us,” he said.

Although the Vail Valley Partnership does not have statistics on the economic impact of the pandemic on Latino businesses, Romer believes that the most vulnerable businesses are small businesses and companies that are owned by minority groups, such as Latinos. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 66% of Hispanic employees in the United States said they would not be paid if the coronavirus caused them to lose their job for two weeks or more, including 47% who said it would be difficult for them to cover expenses if that happens.

José Castañeda, owner of Castañeda’s Mexican Market in Avon, has kept his services open during this time. However, he has seen a decrease in the store’s income from the coronavirus.

“By implementing all security measures, only one person enters the store at a time,” he said. “When everything was fine, we served three people at the same time. So even if you continue to offer the same service, the response time is slower.”

Fewer people and a slower response time means fewer sales for Castañeda, who has had to cut his personal expenses in order to continue to cover the store’s expenses.

However, these business owners have not lose hope that their businesses will soon return to normal, and they have taken this pandemic as both personal and professional learning.

Bodner calls on the Latino community to support each other during these difficult times.

“The support of all the people here is going to be the only thing that will lift us up. Especially locals who depend a lot on ours and not on tourism,” she said. “Support small businesses so we don’t close.”

Resources for small business owners

Here are some resources for small business owners in Spanish: 

Everything you need to know about small business emergency loans can be found online here

If you have common questions about your business, you can find the answers here. The Spanish section is located after the English section, approximately halfway through the document.

For questions about federal, state and local small business support during the COVID-19 pandemic with bilingual options, call 303-860-5881 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or oedit_sbanavigator@state.co. us (open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.).


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