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

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Growing a mobility cluster

News
Friday, October 31, 2014
0414 bikes bd2f6052BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland?  The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented.  But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
22 twosidesBY JASON NORRIS

Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.


Read more...

Election Season

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We didn’t intend this issue to have an election season theme. But politics has a way of seeping into the cracks and fissures.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


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