Four Corners' Latino community recognized as important sector as local economy changes

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FARMINGTON — San Juan College and WESST hosted Latino business owners on Saturday to help make local entrepreneurial resources more available to the Spanish-speaking community in the Four Corners.

More than 50 people and 15 local businesses and organizations attended the Latino Business Expo, according to WESST Regional Manager Chris Hunter. Attendees used the event to network, share and brainstorm ideas and hear stories of success, as well as learn about organizations — like the Farmington Chamber of Commerce and San Juan College's Enterprise Center and Quality Center for Business — that provide resources for local business owners.

The expo was the first of its kind in Farmington, though WESST has hosted similar events across the state, according to WESST President Agnes Noonan. WESST is a statewide small business development and training organization that focuses on business owned by minorities, specifically women, ethnic minority and low-income entrepreneurs. 

Noonan said WESST has placed an emphasis on Spanish-speaking business owners across the state in the past few years.

“This is the beginning. We’ll continue to grow this,” Noonan said of the event and the effort, adding that WESST will “do whatever we can to support these businesses.”

David Eppich, vice president of student services at San Juan College, said everyone who attended the event “is muy importante to the future of this town,” citing changes in economy after oil and gas prices fell.

“As you’ve gone through this morning and this afternoon, please know that there’s a lot of us here that support your efforts,” Eppich said during closing remarks. “We really do need this kind of engagement. To grow the Hispanic and Latino businesses here in this community is critical — critical — to the future of the economy of our community and to your self-interest as well, in growing families — productive, prosperous families here in San Juan County.”

Curbe and Ophelia Myerson of Chavos Street Tacos hosted a booth at the event, and Curbe Myerson said the expo was a very effective way to gather contacts within the business community.

Ophelia Myerson said she took away helpful ideas about how to expand their business.

“Before this, we’ve always been pretty little, because we don’t know nothing how to grow up, how to expand, how to find answers to our questions,” Ophelia Myerson said. “It’s very important, because we are important to the economy of Farmington, so this is great.”

“It gives small businesses hope that we can grow to become bigger business,” Curbe Myerson added.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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