After several decades of operation, the Hispanic Business Professional Association of Spokane (HBPA) is growing from a grassroots grassroots organization to one with supporters throughout Washington State.
Recent funders of the HBPA include the Spokane-based Innovia Foundation, the Avista Foundation, the Empire Health Foundation, the Group Health Foundation, and the Washington State Department of Health.
Last year, BECU Credit Union awarded HBPA a $15,000 grant for its youth education programs, $10,000 of which was placed in a newly created endowment fund at Innovia called Hispanic Business. Professional Association Endowment Fund.
HBPA’s work includes supporting students, including through its Latinos Unidos en Accion (LUNA) program. This program enrolls approximately 200 students annually, connecting Hispanic students to Spokane resources, scholarships, and other services to help them academically, culturally, and emotionally.
Originally starting in the 1980s as a social group, early members of the HBPA scoured the yellow pages for people with Hispanic last names, asking if they wanted to join. The social group soon became a volunteer organization that sought to raise funds for scholarships.
Since 1993, the HBPA has recognized Hispanic high school and college graduates through LUNA.
However, the HBPA has not only focused on Hispanic students, providing support for Hispanic businesses as well. On their website, you can find a directory of all 175 Hispanic-owned businesses and Hispanic-sponsored businesses across Spokane.
Many of these businesses are street vendors who practice crafts or art. In order to keep them in business, the HBPA ensures that they all have the proper certifications and understanding of state and federal laws.
To further this, the HBPA is hosting workshops in the fall intended to provide licensing training, some of which are entirely in Spanish. At these workshops, they also help small businesses pay for licenses and permits.
Since the pandemic, Vice President of Business Affairs Isabel Mazcot de Torres has helped nearly 25 businesses receive loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), economic disaster and grants ranging from 10,000 to 200,000 dollars.
But to help Hispanic communities, HBPA’s Esperanza Program, a bilingual social services program, works with families and individuals to become self-reliant.
Mazcot de Torres and her husband also combined their financial experience and years of working with credit unions to form Torres Tax & Accounting LLC to help Spokane businesses manage their finances. They said nine out of ten businesses they support were Spanish-speaking or Spanish-speaking.
The HBPA, located in downtown Spokane, pursues its goals of diversifying the downtown core and building more Hispanic businesses. Hispanics currently make up 7% of Spokane County’s population, a number that has doubled since Mazcot de Torres arrived in the United States.