Expo Negocio aims to build connections for Latino business owners

Owning a business can sometimes feel overwhelming, and Salem’s Latino Business Alliance wants to offer bilingual help.

Expo Negocio, an annual business expo hosted by Salem’s Latino Business Alliance, returns Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Keizer Civic Center from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with resources in English and Spanish.

The annual event started in 2009 following the Great Recession after organizers noticed Latino business owners were often left out of opportunities for help because they were unaware or didn’t speak English.

“Due to language complications, (they) don’t get to hear a lot about special opportunities that could come to them,” said Fatima Falcon Ontiveros, the event chair.

After a pandemic hiatus, Expo Negocio returned last year. This year’s event is on track to be bigger than last, with 170 people registered to attend.

The Energy Trust of Oregon is the presenting sponsor, and Falcon Ontiveros said they’ll lead two workshops to better acquaint people with the services they offer.

Those include incentives for energy efficiency upgrades, as well as opportunities for contractors to become registered through the trust as “trade allies” and have business referred to them.

Other topics include using artificial intelligence in marketing “since it’s a new topic a lot of business owners are hearing about,” and how to read basic business reports from an accountant.

Members of the Latino Business Alliance will also share information about their microenterprise development program, a series of weekly classes over three months about running or expanding a business. About 60 local businesses have completed the training, and five have received microloans to help start or expand their businesses, said David Rheinholdt, president of the Latino Business Alliance.

A forthcoming third cohort of the program will expand to include Yamhill County businesses through a partnership with McMinnville-based nonprofit Unidos.

Expo Negocio is free to attend and open to anyone, regardless of language spoken. The event includes time for networking and to visit exhibitor booths as well as workshops and a keynote speech. Participants are asked to register online in advance

“It often feels overwhelming to own a business, and it is particularly isolating when you’re an immigrant. Through this event, I hope the entire community finds at least one resource that can help them see that we are not alone, and that we can and will thrive in our businesses,” Falcon Ontiveros said in a statement about the event.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.