A Hispanic small business owner. Courtesy Bank of America

Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends Friday, gave us an opportunity to celebrate the richness and diversity of the Latino community and recognize our collective path forward to drive social and economic progress in San Diego.

This year in particular, we recognize the resilience of San Diego small business owners impacted by a global health crisis who continue to serve our community.

The Latino population plays an integral part of our business community, and there is no doubt these small business owners contribute to the overall success. San Diego now ranks 6th among the top 100 metropolitan areas in Hispanic business ownership.

Prior to the pandemic, San Diego hosted more than 75,400 Latino-owned firms, accounting for 21% of all establishments in a metropolitan area where 37% of the population identifies as Latino.

The San Diego data reflects the legacy and success that Hispanic businesses have experienced across California. A recent study commissioned by Bank of America found that California’s Hispanic GDP grew to $707 billion in 2018 — the latest data available — and is poised to continue increasing into 2022 and beyond. In fact, California’s Latino population creates more economic output than the entire state of Ohio.

Nationally, the Hispanic GDP is breathtaking, with the total economic output of Latinos reaching $2.6 trillion. Latinos now account for nearly 80% of all net new businesses created, according to L’ATITUDE.

However, the past year was challenging for nearly every Hispanic entrepreneur, according to our recently released 2021 Hispanic Business Owner Spotlight. Some 84% of respondents say they have changed, or plan to change, their approach to employee recruitment and retention as a result of the pandemic because of the need for talent.

Despite these challenges, the Hispanic business outlook is strong, with 81% of owners expecting their revenue to increase over the next year, compared to 59% for non-Hispanic owners — a significant difference in outlook. Latino entrepreneurs’ economic optimism and hiring plans also show sharp increases since last fall.

The survey also reconfirms that community values are strong among Hispanic business owners, with 60% having volunteered to help their local communities recover and thrive.

Our company, Bank of America, serves 12 million Hispanic clients, one million of whom are also business owners working to make a lasting, positive impact on their communities.

We strive to serve this important segment by providing digital Spanish-language resources, hiring bilingual client-facing teams, and investing in research like our annual Hispanic Business Owner Spotlight to better understand the unique experiences of these entrepreneurs.

We also invest in programs such as the Latino Business Action Network to help scale up minority-owned businesses, provides mentors and offer growth opportunities. To help underrepresented entrepreneurs have greater access to capital, Bank of America has provided $350 million to minority-focused funds like Vamos Ventures and L’Attitude Ventures, which then invest in minority-led businesses.

Supporting Hispanic businesses not only helps nurture the rich diversity of our community, but more importantly, it helps strengthen our local economy as these businesses continue to grow, creating job opportunities and enabling business owners give back to our community.

Ensuring long-term success for Latino entrepreneurs in San Diego continues to be a priority for Bank of America during Hispanic Heritage Month and year-round.

 Maria Anderson and Jorge E. Ceballos are senior vice presidents and small business banker managers with Bank of America in San Diego.

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