For the Culture: Local organization celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by giving to business owners

For The Culture

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay is doing their part by giving grants to local Hispanic owned businesses.

“We are celebrating this month by giving back to the Hispanic community,” said Diane Cortes, the president of HCCTB.

Many businesses across the Tampa Bay community and the nation are still trying to push through this pandemic. That includes Tapas Spanish Cafe.

“It’s been very hard, to be honest,” said Johanna Petel, the co-owner of Tapas.

“The first month or so, we did it ourselves. She would take the orders and I was doing all of the cooking,” said Antonio Santiago, the co-owner of Tapas.

Petel and Santiago own Tapas Spanish Cafe. Their 11 employees were cut and the doors remained closed for a month during the pandemic. Like many small business owners, the two now rely on federal, state, and local grants to keep them afloat.

Tapas is one of eight local Hispanic owned businesses who just received a grant from the HCCTB.

“We want to make sure that the minority businesses stay open and don’t become another statistic,” Cortes said.

As the president of the Hispanic Chamber, she said the organization wanted to help the Hispanic community during the tough time.

“It is difficult for small businesses here, especially Hispanic, to have back up finances,” Cortes said. “It is important that all of the Hispanic businesses get support. Yes, we are minority but majority of the smallest businesses in Tampa bay are owned by Hispanics.”

That’s why the chamber gave eight business owners either $1,000 or $2,000 grants. Below is a list of the recipients:

  • The Ghost Publishing –  Eli Gonzalez
  • Tapas Spanish Cafe – Jose Santiago
  • Churroland Sweets – Victor Bolivar
  • Superior Scores LLC – Jackie Rivera
  • UMA Midwifery & Holistic Services –  Zul
  • La Pura Cultura – Skin Care
  • Skinfull – Skin Care – Rebecca Diaz
  • Tampa Tutors –  Kayla

Receiving these grants made Hispanic Heritage Month just a bit more special for these winners.

“Gratitude, the Hispanic Chamber is such a vital force in this community,” said Eli Gonzalez, the CEO of Ghost Publishing. “I’m just very grateful.”

“We love what we do. We do it from the heart, so it feels amazing to know that we’re getting this grant and we can help our employees which is the best part,” Petel said.

For more information about HCCTB, click here.

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