Latino services spotlighted in business summit

Sean Philip Cotter

More than 30 percent of the population of York City is Hispanic, including more than 40 percent of the students in its schools.

"More than 40 percent of the city of York's future is Latino," said Norman Bristol-Colon, one of the featured speakers at the Latino Business Summit in York City on Friday night.

A couple of dozen people gathered at the Doors of Salvation Community Development at 325 Mulberry St. in the city's northeast neighborhood for the summit, which the city held to help get Latino business owners more involved and improve access to support.

Victoria Perez, who owns Latinos Tax Center in York City, attended the Latino Business Summit in October.

"Recognizing that the demographics are changing ... the desire is to get the Latino community more engaged," said the city's interim economic and community development director, Shilvosky Buffaloe, who added that this is the second Latino Business Summit, with the first being held two years ago.

He said his office is there to help put everyone in a position to succeed, and these days Latinos are a big slice of "everyone."

Several Latino business owners came to the event in the hopes of improving their positions. A couple of them focused on providing services geared toward Latinos.

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"The Spanish community of the York area is very underserved," said Claudio Digruttola, one of the people who run Bilingual Connection at 155 S. Queen St. in the city.

His translation company started up in the last couple of years. It is the only private company in the York area licensed to serve as a medical and court translator and the only one licensed to teach people to become translators, Digruttola said. They're looking for translators right now — six in York and six in Lancaster.

Victoria Perez runs another Hispanic-geared organization: Latinos Tax Center at 306 W. Market St. in York City. When she opened the center about a year ago, she got a letter from Mayor Kim Bracey thanking her for what she was doing.

"I don't think there's a lot of organizations like this in York," Perez said.

Her office helps people with taxes or translating other documents — whatever people ask.

"Basically whatever the community needs," she said.

At the summit, several local officials showed up, including Buffaloe, Bracey, York County Commissioner Susan Byrnes, city council Vice President Michael Helfrich and city council President Carol Hill-Evans, who's on the ballot for the 95th state House seat. Bracey, Byrnes and Hill-Evans presented a proclamation saying that the Hispanic community was a hardworking, valuable part of the community.

Bristol-Colon, who's running for mayor of Lancaster in 2017, talked about the need for Latinos to stand up for themselves.

"Ask the tough questions; be around the table," he said. "These communities need you more than you need them."

— Sean Cotter covers York City for The York Dispatch. Contact him atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.