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KU Announces Bilingual Seminar for Local Latino Entrepreneurs

August 31, 2012

Reading, PA. - A model program that has helped over 150 regional Latino business owners and entrepreneurs expand or open businesses in the greater Reading Pennsylvania area is coming on September 12th.  "Business Skills for Success for Latino Entrepreneurs" is a bilingual program offered by the Kutztown University Latino Business Resource Center (LBRC) in partnership with National Penn Bank, Boyertown, PA.

The seminar will help participants develop a business plan, and teach them the skills and knowledge required for business success.  Since 2007, the LBRC has run 14 seminars in Reading, Coatesville and Kennett Square, PA., graduating 200 individuals.  Eighty-four percent of the participants who launched businesses were still operating after a year, a positive contrast to the national trend where 80 percent of new businesses fail in their first twelve months.

Interested participants are invited to attend the press conference and information session on September 12 from 6-7:30 p.m. and to register for the classes to be held on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Berks County Community Foundation Center, 237 Court Street. The seminar begins on September 19th and runs for seven weeks on Wednesday evenings.

For information or to register:

Call: 484-646-4017

The seminar is extremely important, especially when times are tough says Johanny Cepeda, a graduate of one of the seminars in Reading who opened Mi Casa Su Casa Café in 2007 and received funding from Community First Fund.  "People are getting laid off," she said.  "This is an opportunity for people to develop a plan of action to change their lives."

Leading economic development organizations in Berks County have identified the need for the creation of a culture of entrepreneurship in order for Berks to be economically competitive and for their residents to have a better quality of life. Plans and reports, including the Act 47 Recovery Plan, the Ride to Prosperity for Economic Competitiveness of Greater Reading, and the Rebuilding Reading Commission Report on Poverty, have also indicated that an increase in Hispanic entrepreneurship will foster economic prosperity in Berks. "The current economic environment and the entrepreneurial spirit of Latinos create new demands from the public and private sector. Partnerships such as this one, take our community a step forward into prosperity" said Michael Rivera, Assistant vice president of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce.

The LBRC uses an innovative learning model of classroom lessons, online business-plan workshops, unlimited mentoring from bilingual business consultants and interaction with business professionals and entrepreneurs.  "Most of the entrepreneurs are really good at the core of the business but have little to none experience managing one, we are here to help them develop the skills needed to succeed", according to Carolina Martinez, Director of the Kutztown University LBRC.

For Lenin Agudo, previous Director of the Kutztown University LBRC and current Community Development Director of the City of Reading, Pa. "This is a complete guide to building a successful business in American, at the end of the day, graduates will have a finalized business plan that they can present to lending organizations. Plus they can increase their marketing and network with support from the Berks County Community Foundation".

This year participants will be presenting their business plans at the end of the 8-week program to a panel of bankers and investors with the ability to win cash rewards based on a business plan competition. Ernie Post, director of the KU SBDC said "This will reinforce one of the goals of the program by helping graduates secure financing for their business by having a well thought out business plan with financial projections".  In addition, participants who successfully graduate from the program will be offered a waiver of $100.00 toward the Zoning Permit fee if they open their business in the City of Reading.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania's Hispanic population soared 83% in the last ten years.   Today, about 58% of the population in Reading area are from Hispanic origin.  The Bureau also reported that the number of Latino-owned firms nationally increased more than 30 percent between 1997 and 2002, which is more than triple the growth record for all U.S. businesses.  In Pennsylvania, the number grew 40 percent.

This project was financed, in part, by a grant from the SBA, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and National Penn Bank.

Kutztown University

Founded in 1866, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is a proud member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education located on 289 acres nestled in the beautiful East Penn Valley in Berks County, between Reading and Allentown, Pennsylvania. KU is just two hours from New York City; 90 minutes from Philadelphia. 

As the region's center for excellence in academics, culture and public engagement, KU's programs and reputation for quality offer students with the opportunity to discover lifelong avenues of learning and discovery. KU students select from 48 majors and 125 fields of study within four colleges in a diverse liberal arts academic environment. To complement their studies, KU's NCAA Division II athletics program with 21 varsity sports joins the more than 170 student clubs and organizations providing students with a variety of activities for learning and discovery. For more information, please visit us at

Small Business Development Center (KUSBDC)
The mission of the network of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers is to grow the economy of Pennsylvania by providing entrepreneurs with the education, information and tools necessary to build successful businesses.

Latino Business Resource Center (KULBRC)
The Kutztown University Latino Business Resource Center will help Latino entrepreneurs start, grow and flourish by building the capacity of economic development organizations to work more effectively with Latino entrepreneurs and will provide Latino entrepreneurs with business consulting, education, research and business tools.

Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce (BCLCC)
The Berks county Latino Chamber of Commerce is a partner and sponsor of the seminar. It will promote the participation of their network f professionals in the delivery of class; will help promote the Bilingual Seminar and share any and all feedback about the program. Additionally the BCLCC will collaborate in the delivery of the classes with board member presentations and guidance.

National Penn Bank
Celebrating 134 years of excellence in financial services, National Penn is the fifth largest bank holding company headquartered in Pennsylvania. National Penn operates 140 community offices in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.  National Penn's financial services affiliates consist of National Penn Investors Trust Company; National Penn Capital Advisors, Inc.; Vantage Investment Advisors, LLC; National Penn Insurance Agency, Inc.; and National Penn Leasing Company. National Penn common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol "NPBC."  For more information, visit