East Texas Hispanic Business Forum Honors Company - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/15/06-Tyler

East Texas Hispanic Business Forum Honors Company

Hispanic entrepreneurs put business aside today at the Tyler Rose Garden. Dancers wearing traditional Mexican costumes performed during a luncheon, hosted by the East Texas Hispanic Business Forum.

More than 300 people attended the event, which honors Hispanic-owned businesses that make a difference in East Texas. Organizers say Hispanic businesses contribute more than $40 million to the East Texas economy.

One of those businesses is Cindy's Balloons and Party Supplies.   The forum awarded the owners, a brother and sister whose family emigrated from Mexico, with the Entrepreneur of the Year title.

Before opening the business two years ago, Susana Gann and Israel Lopez were both working and going to school. But they could not afford to pay their tuition, which was more expensive because of their legal status. That's when they decided to open their own business.

"We started with $2,000. We bought 15 pinatas and a little bit of party supplies," said Gann.  She says when she and her brother first opened Cindy's Balloons and Party Supplies, they struggled for business.  

"At first, we had two, three customers per week," said Lopez.   "Little by little, people that would come and visit us, would inform other people, and other people, and that's how we grew our client-base."

Lopez says the store now gets about 20 customers a day.   When they first opened their business up, Lopez was working at a fast food restaurant during the day.   Gann was working as a waitress at night.   When they weren't at their jobs, they were at their business trying to get it going.

Gann says with the help of four other family members, the business has propelled forward. "This is a family business. My mom makes pinatas, my brother makes pinatas, I make decorations, my daughter helps, so everybody helps," said Gann.

Gann says that's why getting the Entrepreneur of the Year award today meant so much. That and the fact that their business was up against two other bigger businesses.  Lopez said, "I thought, we are going to lose. We cannot compete against them. They are big companies. But, I think that we won because we care a lot about the community."

Gann and Lopez says this is only the beginning for them. Gann and Lopez say they hope to open stores in Longview and Jacksonville.  

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.  ortega@kltv.com

 

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