The Inspire series will highlight Longmont youth who are taking action to change their community.
Graduating from Front Range Community College in May, Kevin Ortiz wants to build a career around helping others and giving back. Having chased a job for money, he knows he needs more than a paycheck to get by, he needs a job he can be passionate about.
After graduating from Longmont High School, Ortiz pursued a career as a diesel mechanic. He heard the job offered a sizable paycheck and the work was “easy enough,” Ortiz said.
It all turned out to be true and Ortiz enjoyed the profession, however, something was lacking. He found himself going to work but not feeling fulfilled. He wanted more.
He decided to go back to school and take classes at FRCC in marketing and business. His first business course at FRCC offered extra credit to anyone who was willing to join the Longmont Chamber of Commerce Student Network program.
The Student Network program connects young people with local business leaders through networking events. Students are able to build connections which can lead to internships, mentorships and job opportunities.
Taking the teacher up on the offer, Ortiz joined the student-led program. Little did he know it would be the first step in living out his dream.
Shortly after joining the group, Ortiz was named the marketing director of the chamber’s Student Network where he was able to build his skills in marketing. According to Ortiz, each student leader gets to organize a program that will help them gain experience in their field.
While Ortiz volunteered his time helping with the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County’s COVID-19 Equity clinics he learned of ways he could use his marketing knowledge in the organization. It did not take long for Ortiz to identify several Latino-owned businesses that were struggling with their own marketing needs.
He contacted the businesses and learned what their concerns and goals were. Through his inquiries he found that many Latino businesses were being taken advantage of by marketing and website companies simply because they were not able to speak English.
“My experience with Latino businesses is that they are one-person show for their business and do not have enough time to plan for a marketing strategy,” said Berenice Garcia-Tellez chair of the Latino Chamber. “Also, they don't count on the social capital to get advice or are not aware of marketing programs by the SBDC, EforAll, Latino Chamber of Commerce, etc. Then, they paid for unnecessary plans that do not work for their structure or faced digital divide challenges.”
Being fluent in both English and Spanish and growing up watching both of his parents launch businesses Ortiz understood the struggles these businesses were facing. He established marketing strategies and developed websites for Latino businesses in Longmont.
“I feel like it is a lot harder (as a small business) … because they have less resources because they can’t really communicate or find bilingual businesses that can translate what they are looking for in their branding,” Ortiz said. “They need all the help they can get.”
“Latino businesses need entities that can help them navigate these available resources and connect them to the right professionals that can bridge these gaps,” Garcia-Tellez added.
Watching his parents work hard to grow their small businesses solidified Ortiz’s commitment to be a part of something bigger than himself.
“It’s about finding meaning in the work that I do,” Ortiz said. “I feel motivated to do it. With other types of work, when you get burnt out you don’t really have that push to keep ongoing. Whether I am helping out family members or other organizations I feel like I never lose the drive … It’s energizing.”