With the Hispanic population on the rise in the New Orleans area, a coalition including local government, schools, social services and business organizations have come together to create a new resource to help this community prosper.
Called the Hispanic Business Resources and Technology Center and housed at Roosevelt
Middle School in Kenner, the new center was launched by the Jefferson Parish Public School System, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, Southeastern Louisiana University and Catholic Charities of New Orleans Hispanic Apostolate.
NEWS BEAT: En españolThe center offers business-related education programs, including a bilingual certificate program for small businesses, training in modern business technologies, assistance in job placement and work-force development services; assistance finding disaster relief; and tutoring and mentoring services for local Hispanic students.
“We are seeing many more Hispanics coming to work in the area, and they need assistance with housing, education, language skills,” says Hispanic Chamber president Manny Blanco. “I can’t think of a better way to help them than this center.”
The center is getting started with $20,000 in seed money from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. But most of the center’s resources for programming and services come from its partner organizations. The local Hispanic chamber is providing overall coordination of the center. Southeastern will hold business seminars and workshops through its College of Business, as well as provide tutoring and mentoring services for high school students through by the university’s Upward Bound program.
It also provided computers and other equipment to build a modern computer lab at the center. Meanwhile, the Jefferson Parish Public School System provides the space for the center at Roosevelt Middle School and language training through its English as a second language program. The Hispanic Apostolate will coordinate social services, including some health services.
According to the latest census figures, the Hispanic population in Louisiana is approximately 200,000 people, with most living in south Louisiana. The Kenner location puts the center in a community with a heavy concentration of Hispanics, but it will provide services to businesses and residents across those Louisiana areas hit hardest by
Katrina, including Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes, and Baton Rouge. Aristides Baraya, director of Southeastern’s Latin American
Business Initiative, chairs the board governing the center. Representatives from the partner organizations serve as directors. – I.M.