SBA head promotes women-owned businesses, visits Latinos in Detroit

SBA head promotes women-owned businesses, visits Latinos in Detroit

Detroit – The top US Small Business Administration official visited Detroit on Thursday to promote the government’s efforts to promote businesses owned by women and Latinos.

Of Michigan’s 900,000 small businesses, nearly 340,000 are owned by women and just over 24,000 are owned by Hispanics. Isabella Casillas Guzman toured one of those companies, Hacienda Mexican Foods, and met the owner of the tortilla chip maker, Lydia Gutierrez.

Guzman also participated in a panel with other female business leaders in Grosse Pointe Shores to promote the SBA’s new digital tools available to existing and prospective small business operators.

“During the pandemic, we saw dramatic shifts towards higher adoption of technology in businesses, covering everything from operational efficiency, e-commerce and social media,” Guzman said. “We want to take advantage of this moment to ensure that small businesses continue to grow with digital technology.”

The conference announced free resources to help small businesses expand their customer base, manage their growth, find and retain employees, and enter new markets.

“They still face challenges… we want to connect them with these partners and have candid discussions about what it takes so that we can all adapt and respond to help the small businesses,” she said.

Gutierrez said a Paycheck Protection Loan she received from the SBA during the COVID-19 pandemic was instrumental in saving the company she started in southwest Detroit with her late husband in 1994.

In the early days of the pandemic, the distributors and restaurants that make up Hacienda’s customer base stopped ordering.

Hacienda Mexican Foods president and CEO, Lydia Gutierrez, left, raises her arms in delight as she welcomes SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, right, to her company.

Without the support of the SBA: “I don’t think we would have done business. If we had closed the doors, we would not have been able to (re)open,” Gutierrez said. “We would have to try to activate again and that would have been very difficult for us, so we kept our doors open.”

Now, Gutierrez plans to build another manufacturing site in southwest Detroit in the near future, creating more than 150 jobs.

“I’m very grateful and humbled to have Isabella Guzman here… as a role model, as a female Latina in the position she has,” Gutierrez said. “I think she’s doing a great job, that she’s there and that people can identify with her, that’s very important.”

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