Haverhill’s Latino-owned businesses were harder hit by the COVID-19 pandemic than their counterparts concludes a survey by the Haverhill Latino Coalition, Northern Essex Community College and the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.
Haverhill Latino Coalition’s Manuel Matias told the City Council Tuesday the group surveyed 32 Latino-owned businesses in the city and found they had unequal access to state and local resources during the pandemic.
“A lot of our businesses just didn’t know of the aid and resources that were available. We know that the resources are available but the fact that they are not reaching the people that need them most is the biggest issue that we saw. A lot of people said they needed capital. A lot of people said they needed employees, marketing, but the fact that 63% of them didn’t know what they needed or where they could get help was very alarming to us,” he said.
Matias said 93% of the businesses reported a drop in sales, some even having to close their businesses altogether. Even after they were told resources were available, he told the Council, some were still hesitant to release specifics.
“Another issue that was reflected in the survey was 44% of these businesses didn’t feel comfortable enough, sharing their information,” he said.
Matias said what is needed is to build a relationship with these business owners in order to keep them informed and gain their trust. To that end, he said Mayor James J. Fiorentini has agreed to earmark a small amount of Community Development Block Grant money to pay for a temporary, part-time Latino business outreach liaison.
That survey was paid by a grant from the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development, based on Haverhill’s 2020 Urban Agenda Program.