On Friday, January 15, former mayor and HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros welcomed local Latino leaders and city officials including Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Country Judge Nelson Wolff to announce an important community-based initiative to support Westside entrepreneurs and small businesses of the Westside, the city’s lowest-income neighborhood.
This new effort will be supported by Aspen Institute and newly created local entity ESTAR West for the purpose of accelerating Latino-owned businesses in six cities with a Latino majority. ESTAR West will build a coalition of local, cross-sector leaders and community partners to build a cohesive relationship with the Aspen Business & Entrepreneurship Initiative City Learning & Action Lab.
There are approximately 2,600 small businesses in the Westside’s 15 square mile area. While Latinos account for 64% of San Antonio’s total population, their ownership of small businesses stands only at 24%. The majority of these businesses are food service/hospitality, retail, healthcare, and social assistance. The majority of Latino businesses have less than five employees and 80% have less than ten employees.
Among the major objectives of ESTAR West is to assist 30-50 businesses a year in making progress toward a 50% increase in revenue and profitability. ESTAR West will seek to provide equipment and training to over 750 businesses in the next three years. The project will require action to redevelop and activate vacant property and improve infrastructure to attract customers and visitors. Finally, ESTAR West will work with its partners to attract more small businesses, entrepreneurs, customers, and visitors to the Westside by highlighting and celebrating its positive attribute and destinations.

Photos by Dr. Romo