Posted on July 21, 2022

When the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center in Fort Worth received a $562,500 grant, those responsible for the Sparkyard platform that supports local entrepreneurs and startups set out to expand its services. One of the key initiatives in this expansion was to translate Sparkyard into Spanish and embark on a major outreach to Fort Worth’s Spanish-speaking entrepreneurial community.

sparkyard and its wide range of resources is now available in Spanish on a separate site. The free platform helps new and existing Tarrant County businesses connect to the right resource at the right time to get started and grow.

The goal of translation is to engage a community where entrepreneurship rates are already high. Spanish-speaking communities have long been a hub for newcomers and self-made business owners, especially in Fort Worth. According to a recent Forbes report, Hispanics are building businesses at 15 times the national rate, and Fort Worth was recently rated as the 14th largest city in the nation for Hispanic entrepreneurs. Spanish speakers make up over 36% of the city’s population.

Even with the growth and economic rise of the Latinx population, the community still faces significant barriers, including language, in starting and growing small businesses. Sparkyard — which is run by the university’s HSC Next program with support from the City of Fort Worth Department of Economic Development and Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business — is working to break down some of those barriers. .

“Sparkyard is all about leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs and business owners of all types, no matter who they are, where they live or what type of business they run,” said Marco Johnson of HSC Next, who is the builder of the Sparkyard network. “Making the Sparkyard site accessible in Spanish is key to ensuring more equitable access to resources. We know there is a need for help in this community, and it is our duty to make these resources accessible. In the future, we hope to work with a native Spanish speaker to help Sparkyard meet entrepreneurs where they are. »

Johnson said he and his team are planning a series of “road shows” in the community to help promote the newly translated website and raise awareness of Sparkyard in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods. Sparkyard is already a partner of Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and refers many Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs to this organization. This partnership is expected to grow stronger and grow as Sparkyard meets more Hispanic business owners.

“As a business owner and former Fort Worth City Council representative for District 2, I’m thrilled that HSC’s Sparkyard program is engaging the Hispanic community in such a meaningful way,” said Sal Espino, attorney, chief the community and former member of the city council of the neighborhood that includes the largely Spanish-speaking north side of the city. “Small businesses are the beating heart of a community, and I look forward to seeing Hispanic-owned businesses thrive with the help of Sparkyard and HSC.”

Numerous studies have shown that entrepreneurship is one of the fastest, fairest and most sustainable ways to rebuild the economy after a recession. After COVID-19 took a heavy toll on the local economy, Sparkyard staff were determined to do their part to revive commerce in every neighborhood. The team received a grant through the Economic Development Administration’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which covers a portion of the team’s current outreach.

Sparkyard frequently collaborates with community partners to make inroads into the Spanish-speaking community.

“As someone who sees everything through the lens of fairness, it brings me great joy to be part of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Fort Worth’s collaboration with Sparkyard to bring fairness across context. Spanish to Fort Worth’s Spanish-speaking entrepreneurial community,” said Natalia M. Dominguez, business leader at North Texas-based Carcon Industries.

sparkyard offers a variety of free services to entrepreneurs in the Fort Worth area, including personalized spark plans to help businesses overcome current obstacles, a comprehensive calendar of regional events, a directory of free business building resources , local economic research, ways to identify resource gaps and more.

“I am thrilled that the City of Fort Worth, HSC and TCU have partnered to launch the Spanish version of Sparkyard, a free platform that connects entrepreneurs with resources and information about the local Fort Worth startup community” , said Carlos Flores, City Council Representative for District 2. “Sparkyard’s data analysis, guest blog posts and other sources of information will help entrepreneurs in our community find the right resources to grow their businesses. business ideas.”

The HSC team behind Sparkyard is also working on translating the site into Vietnamese, the third most spoken language in Tarrant County after English and Spanish. Entrepreneurship rates in the Vietnamese American community – and the Asian American community in general – are higher than the national average, but an estimated 44% of Vietnamese Americans are not proficient in English. This means that, as in the Spanish-speaking community, many entrepreneurs lack access to resources, which equates to a lack of realized business potential. HSC plans to launch the Sparkyard site in Vietnamese later this summer.

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