Mary Cervantes

Mary Cervantes is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register.

J.L. Sousa/Register

Starting this month, the Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is offering something new — business workshops in Spanish.

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m., the first in a series of three bilingual business development workshops will be held at Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma SBDC located at 2277 Napa Vallejo Highway in building 3300.

The series begins with the fundamentals to opening a business, Business Start-up Orientation., followed by Marketing your Small Business (Oct. 5) and Recordkeeping—Best Practices (Oct. 19).

As this bilingual business development program progresses, more bilingual workshops will be added, including Access to Capital. This opportunity is made possible through funding from Umpqua Bank, a supporter of the Napa small business community.

“As a community bank, with a presence in Napa, we believe we have an obligation to invest in education programs that are essential to the long-term economic health and development of the community,” said Scott Taylor, Umpqua Bank vice president/Soscol store manager.

“We’re inspired by Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center and thrilled to be a part of the impact taking place in the local Napa community.”

Hispanic-owned businesses are growing at twice the pace of the U.S. national average. According to the Small Business Administration, more than 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses and entrepreneurs contribute more than $468 billion to the U. S. economy each year, creating two out of every three net new jobs.

It is essential that Hispanic-owned businesses have all the resources to succeed. In Napa, the Napa-Sonoma SBDC will help guide Hispanic entrepreneurs through both the startup stage and ongoing management of their business.

Malinalli Lopez, owner of XQL Media and current SBDC client said, “Without the help of the SBDC, I would not have the range of skills that I do in order to launch my dream company, XQL media. Due to the support I received, I am now well versed in how to draft the business plan, put together financial statements and build the team that will ensure the success of my company.”

Conducting the business workshops and providing one-on-one business advising is a team of experienced bilingual business advisers who are also business owners. They have firsthand knowledge of the challenges Hispanic business owners face in finding financing, hiring employees and scaling their business.

“Being a Hispanic entrepreneur and having a passion for my business led me to become an SBDC Business Advisor with the Napa-Sonoma SBDC,” said Mariana Almaraz.

“Passing on my knowledge and sharing my experiences with other Hispanic business owners in Napa and Sonoma county is important to me. These business workshops is a way in which I can help them become successful.”

The SBDC bilingual business development trainings also happen to begin during National Hispanic Heritage Month which starts on Thursday, Sept. 15 and ends Saturday, Oct. 15.

Anyone interested in attending Napa-Sonoma SBDC workshops or meeting with a business adviser for free one-on-one advising can go to to register or call (707) 256-7250.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or