How Burien Brought Latinx Businesses to the Table

Big enough to help and small enough to care.

That is how one survey respondent described working with the City of Burien in the 2018 Burien Business Survey. The survey, conducted in fall 2018, is one element of the City’s business retention and expansion efforts to develop relationships, build trust and work together to improve the business climate and help businesses to prosper in our community.

One important element of the survey were focus groups made up of local business owners held in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The goal of the focus groups was to create an environment where business owners felt free to provide feedback that they might not feel comfortable sharing in the typical structure of government. For this reason, we wanted the focus group to be conducted by a third party facilitator, surrounded by similarly minded entrepreneurs and held off-site at a local business. That is where we teamed up with Ventures, who provided the facilitation services for both the English language and Spanish language focus groups.

Feedback from Spanish Language Focus Group

The main reasons cited by business participants for attending the Spanish language focus group were to make new connections with other business owners, learn about resources from the city, and to have a voice for their business in the community. Ventures thought the in-person meeting format was especially effective for Latinx businesses, as the group had several questions after the discussion about scheduling further meetings.

The group members expressed appreciation for the focus group invitation and felt motivated to become better aware of city resources and open a door to more communication with the city about their needs. Members also expressed a desire to contribute to the growth and success of not only their business, but the Burien community as a whole.

Moving forward the city will continue to provide bi-lingual outreach and opportunities for the Latinx business owners to weigh in on local issues and provide feedback on ways we can help their businesses grow, succeed and feel welcomed in our community.

At the end of the meeting, members were asked to fill out a comment card with any thoughts they did not have time to share during the session. Comments included:

 “Thank you for supporting Hispanic businesses!”

 “I want to say thank you to the City of Burien for what you are doing with Latino businesses!”

 “Thank you so much for the meeting. It was very productive!”

By providing accessible, community-driven pathways for Latinx business owners to connect with city resources, the City of Burien and businesses will benefit from a stronger small business community better equipped to bring growth and economic success to Burien. Thank you to Ventures for being a part of this exciting project!

This post was written by Chris Craig, the City of Burien’s Economic Development Specialist.