Sponsored by Oregon Business

Q&A with Gale Castillo, president of the Hispanic Metro chamber

| Print |  Email
Sunday, February 01, 2009

Building bridges

GaleCastillo.jpg PHOTO BY ANTHONY PIDGEON

As small businesses reel from recession shock waves, Gale Castillo, president and one of the founding members of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber in Portland, offers support to both Latino and non-Latino business owners. This month, she is participating in the National Hispanic Leadership Institute’s Executive Leadership Training program in San Juan Bautista, Calif. A small business owner herself, Castillo is also a member of Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ economic cabinet.

Q How has the recession hit the business of your members?

A During the best times, our community has not necessarily been the beneficiary — they’ve struggled. On average, small businesses make about $900,000 a year. Latino businesses make about $100,000 a year. During these harsh economic times, Latino businesses suffer even more. We have a lot of firms that are not getting contracts, not getting paid. We’re trying to work with them to help them be creative regarding their financing, marketing and contract opportunities.

Q What are the current Latino business trends?


A Nationally and locally, three sectors have a concentration of Latinos. One is construction; another is service — lawyers, attorneys, bookkeepers and personal services such as salons, nails, dog groomers. The third sector is retail, including restaurants and small stores. Of those three sectors, the service sector is doing better than construction and retail right now. But even the service sector is not doing that well.

Q What does the future hold for Hispanic businesspeople?


A I think the possibilities are unlimited. We have a lot of professional Latinos coming to Oregon for the same reasons that other people come to Oregon, for career opportunities. These individuals and their children are not going to be limited by anyone else’s stereotypes.

Q What stereotypes are still fought?

A I think there is still an assumption that Latino contractors or business people are lesser than non-Latinos. One of our goals is to increase the visibility of Latino businesses, and let people know what their capabilities are, and encourage large corporations and contractors to consider using their services. It’s been an educational piece for Oregonians, and Portlanders in particular. When we had our very first luncheon I had one individual tell me, “I have never seen so many professional Latinos in one room.” So people are still trying to grasp the understanding of our community. They’re still operating from old stereotypes about who we are, what our capabilities are. In many cases they still see us as foreigners. But we’re changing stereotypes in the community, for the whole community, not just businesses, and we’re trying to create opportunities for our young people. If we’re just talking to ourselves, we’re not doing a good job. I have to talk to others outside of our community to learn from them, but also to help the general community understand who we are. It’s about building bridges.

JENNIFER FURNISS


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

On the Brink

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Leslie Carlson channels the big idea.


Read more...

Grassroots movement pursues carbon bills

News
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
eventthumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A partnership of a grassroots environmental organization and a youth group is striving to build community and business support for carbon price legislation.


Read more...

How a Utah-based essential oils company cornered the Oregon market

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Multilevel marketing, health claims and zyto scanner biofeedback machines: How dōTERRA thrives in Oregon. 


Read more...

Cache and Curry

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Power Lunch at Swagat in Hillsboro.


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

Banking Perspective

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Craig Wanichek, president and CEO of Summit Bank.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS