EDASC program provides business counseling for Latino community

Friday, August 02, 2019

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MOUNT VERNON – Viridiana Delgado’s restaurant started slowly the first 8 months.

“I was really shocked,” Delgado said. “I was wondering if what I was doing was correct.”

Five years later, her business COA Mexican Eatery is thriving, with a 4.5-star rating on Yelp and lots of loyal customers.

The turning point, Delgado said, happened when she contacted EDASC’s Latino Business Retention and Expansion Program for business guidance.

“I got the help and started taking action,” Delgado said.

The Latino Business Retention and Expansion Program, established in 2004, provides free one-on-one business counseling and broad-based support for Latino entrepreneurs and business owners looking to start or expand their business.

The program uses a customized bilingual approach, eliminating the language barrier to help a wider range of entrepreneurs. EDASC can help provide access to capital, business education and support for strategic planning, marketing, resource awareness and networking.

Latino Business Retention and Expansion Director Dr. Diana Morelli-Klima has provided free counseling to hundreds of clients and has secured over $3 million in loans for local businesses.

Having this service is important for Skagit county, which has a high Latino population. Language and cultural barriers can be stumbling blocks for starting a successful business.

Dr. Morelli-Klima pays as much attention to Latino cultural norms when advising clients as she does on forming a business plan or applying for a loan.

Delgado remembers those considerations when she first came to EDASC for help.

“She knows where I’m coming from,” Delgado said. “She knows the language and understands the culture. If you are coming up from a community where you are struggling to get by, you are working twice as much as someone who might already have the pieces put together. She knew what I was going through and she gave me all the help I needed. Now here I am.”

Dr. Morelli-Klima said it’s been rewarding seeing her clients rise in the business community, such as Delgada’s COA Mexican Eatery.

“She really went through a lot to get her restaurant to where it is today,” Dr. Morelli-Klima said. “She went through all the right steps and took her counseling to heart.”

Contact the EDASC Latino Business Retention and Expansion program at 360-336-6114 or diana@skagit.org.

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