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Hampden Bank helps underwrite Latino Chamber's seminar series

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Thanks to a grant from Hampden Bank, Latino business owners will be able to get training that will help them improve or launch a business.

Last week, Hampden Bank officials presented a $2,800 grant to the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite the Chamber's series of Small Business Seminars.

Beginning June 21 there will be seven two-hour workshops covering issues such as writing a business plan, marketing a business and establishing or improving a credit rating.

The seminars cost $49 each for non-members and $25 for members of the Chamber. They will be presented in English and Spanish.

Carlos Gonzales, the president of the Chamber, said the grant will add a "Latino heat to the economic beat of western Massachusetts."

The Chamber has 168 member businesses located in western Massachusetts as well as the Worcester and Lawrence areas.

Gonzales said statistics show the determination Latinos have to establish businesses. Seventy percent of Latino business owners start their business without outside financial assistance and after three years 50 percent then are still in business.

He said that if you travel through the largely Latino North End neighborhood of Springfield, it's difficult to find an empty storefront.

The seminar series is valuable because "it's important to have the fundamentals in place in every business," Gonzales added.

"Entrepreneurship in Springfield is extraordinary," Thomas Burton said, president of Hampden Bank. "It makes up a majority of the employment."

Gonzales said that 50 new businesses could translate into 150 jobs.

More information on the seminars can be obtained by calling 746-1989.