BETHESDA, Md. — According to a study by American University and the DC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic owned small businesses make up 12% of DC’s tax revenue. While some Hispanic businesses have found a way to pivot their services in order to not shut down completely, many are bracing for what could come if there’s another shutdown.
WUSA9 reporter Ariane Datil asked a Hispanic business owner in the DMV about how his business might fare.
Juan Carlos Castillo has owned Tierra Events — a production event company here in the DMV since 2004. He says the coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest challenge his business has ever faced.
When the pandemic caused people to cancel most in-person gatherings like expos, weddings, corporate events and more, Castillo’s business came to a crashing stop. He was forced to reduce his staff by almost 80%.
But in the face of adversity, he got creative with the machinery that his company used to make commercial banners. Now he uses those machines to create PPE.
The DC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says for the most part, like Juan Carlos, their members have found ways to pivot and modify their businesses, but they too are concerned about how many Hispanic-owned businesses in the DMV could close for good if we face another shutdown without any assistance from the government.
Below is an excerpt of Arian's interview with Castillo:
ARIANE: "Do you think that your business would survive another complete shutdown?"
JUAN CARLOS: "It's tough. It's tough. Probably not. Everything has been changing. We had to modify our lifestyle [and] motivate ourselves that we want to come back to business. So it has been, it has been tough. We were the first businesses to be closed and we're going to be the last businesses to be open."
JUAN CARLOS: "We started designing face shields PPE for the first responders and now we started doing the sneeze guards."
ARIANE: "Is it completely matching the business that you would do before or is this just kind of getting you through?"
JUAN CARLOS: "It's more like survival."