Social Science Research Institute - St. Cloud State University

Social Science Research Institute - St. Cloud State University

Panel Title:  The Impact of Minnesota's Immigrants: Opportunity, Advocacy and Money

Panel Description:  Panels will talk about opportunities in Minnesota for Latino Entrepreneurs and available resources and programs that support business development in rural regions of the state and in the local food movement.  

Panel Participants:

Enrique Garcia – The Entrepreneur ExperienceMr. Garcia is the owner of La Loma Tamales based in the Twin Cities.  His successful venture began with his first business on Lake St. at the Mercado Central in 1999.  13 years later he has grown his business to employ over 50 people and generates sales in excess of $1.2 million.  While it’s not been easy, La Loma  has become an important and solid business that generates jobs, revenue and is a role model for other entrepreneurial ventures.

Monica Romero – Access to CapitalMs. Romero is originally from Colombia where she came from 16 years ago to pursue her higher degree in business. Mónica joined LEDC in September of 2004.  She is the Loan Program Director with LEDC and oversees lending and business development activities. She has met individually with clients to assess their business idea and has guided them. Mónica has been instrumental in identifying and seeking funding for the organization’s loan fund.  She also provides support and technical assistance to members who wish to start a business or expand an existing venture.  She brings a unique perspective as they work on business plans, projections, licensing, certifications and needed permits.

Mónica graduated from Metropolitan State University in 2000; from 1997 to 2000 she work, while attending classes, she held a work study position in the finance office and marketing and public affairs offices.  She was also part of the International Student Organization and the Women Student Organization. Before joining LEDC, Mónica worked as business consultant with WomenVenture from 2001 to 2004.

In keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit, Mónica started an importing business 8 years ago. She has imported handmade crafts from Colombia and has sold them through her participation in outside summer events.

Jaime Villalaz – Economic Opportunities in Rural MinnesotaJaime moved to Minnesota in 1995 from San Diego, CA.  He grew up in the border town of Tijuana and attended the University of Baja California where he earned an accounting degree.  Jaime was Program Coordinator with United Migrant Opportunities Services in the areas of “Welfare to Work” programming, High School Equivalency program and other social services programs from 2002 to 2009.  He has been working as a tax preparer for the last 5 years serving the Latino population in the St. Cloud, Willmar and surrounding communities. Jaime completed LEDC’s year long, rural partners; Train the Trainer Program in support of his work in the St. Cloud region.  As a business consultant he has provided technical assistance, loan packaging, business financial analysis and guidance for entrepreneurs as they navigate the start up of their venture.  Jaime is a skilled trainer and facilitator working within community, and with entrepreneurs, to build capacity in the communities in which he works.  His work as a business specialist with LEDC provides his customers with a trusted and knowledgeable resource for their development and success as well as for the Latino community.


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