November 22, 2002

Small Businesses learn from the experts at Hispanic Business Fair

By Paola Hornbuckle

In an effort to reach out to the community, Southwestern College held the San Diego Hispanic Business Fair on Tuesday, November 12. Keeping in mind the needs of minority owned small businesses, sponsoring agencies like the EDD, the California Employment Development Department, and the IRS, Internal Revenue Service, among others, focused on topics, issues, and problems often encountered by this rapidly growing segment of the population.

Gary Barnes, Maria Barnes, Sam Rodriguez and John Harris from the EDD at the Southwestern College Hispanic Business Fair.

The fair ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and featured numerous speakers representing the various agencies as well as information booths with informative literature.

According to Sam Rodriguez, EDD Chief Deputy Director, “It is very challenging to start a business and sustain it in California. You have to go through different local, state, and federal agencies to start your business and then you have to understand the tax laws – local, federal, and state.”

Apparently, it is very difficult for new business owners to understand the regulations. Women and minorities who might be additionally challenged by language and cultural barriers and normally have less than ten employees, find that they have to spend enormous amount of time and resources trying to understand the complexity of the tax regulations and the process. As a result, business owners unwittingly violate rules, regulations and laws that will catch up with them. They might even have to face state and federal restrictive penalties.

One of the main goals of the EDD at the Hispanic Business Fair was to make sure small business owners learned about how to comply with the rules and regulations of the state of California, and to take the time to understand the various easy ways and short cuts to success.

“At the state level we are going to provide easy access for businesses to file their payroll taxes and register their employees online, and provide multilingual information so employees and workers understand what their responsibilities are,” explained Rodriguez.

Another danger is the exploitation by employers of workers in bad economic times. Often the very young and uneducated suffer the consequences of unscrupulous business practices, like making them work overtime without declaring it. The EDD is interested in enforcing the labor law and building a workers’ internet pool which explains worker’s rights and who they can call without fearing retribution.

“Just like business government is beginning to change. It is becoming more customer service oriented and it understands that the fastest growing business in California is Latinos and women. Latino business thrive in Latino communities and Latino consumer power in California is estimated at 3.1 billion dollars,” said Rodriguez.

Southwestern College, under the leadership of Dr Serafin Zasueta, Superintendent of SWC, is a big supporter of small businesses through research, outreach programs, and education. The college is home to The Small Business Development and International Trade Center, which host such programs as the California-Mexico Trade Assistance Center, San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center, CalWorks, and Customized Training Services.

Some of the sponsoring agencies included the Board of Equalization, the City of San Diego, the Department of Labor, the Employment Development Department, the Franchise Tax Board, the Service Cops of Retired Executives, the Small Business Administration, the Small Business Development and International Trade Center, the Social Security Administration, and Southwestern College.

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