Sponsored by Oregon Business

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

| Print |  Email
Archives - February 2009
Sunday, February 01, 2009

Building bridges


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.


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



More Articles

5 facts about the teaching profession in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, October 08, 2015

Based on several metrics, Oregon has one of the lowest performing K-12 education systems in the country. Teacher compensation is part of the problem.


Salad Days

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

How Portland's Garden Bar plans to become the Starbucks of salad.


The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


The 5 most/least expensive rental neighborhoods in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, September 24, 2015
092515neighborhoodthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Oregon's population is booming, and so are rental costs.


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


Grain Food

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Power Lunch at Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Restaurant.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02