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Latino Entrepreneurs in Iowa Get a Helping Hand From An Unusual Source

If you are a Latino small business owner in Iowa, and there's someone new in your neighborhood, odds are they called Himar Hernandez for help. For more than 10 years, Hernandez has been helping Latino entrepreneurs across the state with small business needs because he cares about his community.

So, who is Himar Hernandez? He is an Iowa State University extension specialist in community and economic development. He works with small business owners to help them find grant money, micro loans, and work through the rules and regulations governing business practice in the state. It seems that whatever small business owners need, Hernandez can find the resources to help them.

Hernandez' work has gained national attention from reputable media sources such as the Wall Street Journal and NBC’s “Today” show. His hard work has encouraged more Latinos to remain in Iowa, where he and his family also live. In his city of residence, Ottumwa, Latinos represent 11 percent of the city’s population, and Hernandez wants to see them become successful.

His initiative has resulted in securing grants for economic development projects, connecting entrepreneurs with other businesses to partner on projects, and offering recommendations on the most promising business potential areas by serving on several committees in town. As one small business owner described him, “Himar helps me with everything,” "He takes care of you.”

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