Glen Cove’s Ever Padilla, 41, makes friends with many of the strangers who walk by his barbershop on Glen Cove Avenue. Steve Pavlidis, 45, of Sea Cliff, remembers passing Padilla’s shop daily, where he and his children would occasionally say hello to “the waving man on the corner.”
When Pavlidis needed a new barber in 2018, he stopped by Padilla’s shop. The two began talking, and Padilla shared his ambition to galvanize the North Shore’s Latino business community.
Last summer, Padilla, who is originally from El Salvador, joined some of his friends and fellow Latino business leaders on the North Shore to do just that, attempting to establish a North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New York. Although the group seemed ready to launch in September, Padilla found himself alone, as everyone else stepped down, citing the time that managing such an organization required.
But Padilla, refusing to give up, got together with other friends, including Pavlidis, and began planning the organization’s revival. On Monday, Glen Cove City Court Judge Richard McCord officially swore in Padilla and his team as the first board of directors of the North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New York.
“Glen Cove and the North Shore are changing, and our community has to be aware of it in order to benefit,” Padilla said. “We want our community to rise.”
The idea for this kind of Chamber of Commerce came to Padilla when he discovered that Glen Cove’s Latino population had increased by more than 25 percent since 2010, according to the U.S. census. There were more businesses operated by or catering to immigrants, but Padilla found that language and cultural differences created a barrier between Latino business owners and the usual resources and organizations that were supposed to help them. He decided that a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce would appeal to those businesses and connect them with the help they needed.
The idea resonated with Marlon Maldonado, a Bank of America employee, who said he had never been extended a helping hand growing up in Glen Cove. Maldonado said that integrating into a new community and culture is difficult, especially with a new business, and he was more than happy to join Padilla in the Hispanic chamber. He is now its treasurer.
“This is a great opportunity to share what we know with people going through the same things we did,” Maldonado said.
Pavlidis, a financial adviser and the organization’s vice president, said he was eager to work with the local Latino business community and share his business knowledge. Most people, he said, don’t know how to properly invest their money or how to get out of debt, which is often why businesses fail. Group members also found that because many older Latino business owners tend to focus on their businesses’ day-to-day operations, they overlook the importance of marketing, and limit their opportunities to grow.
When Soraida Corella, 54, a mail carrier in Syosset, moved to Glen Cove in 2017, Padilla became her first friend, helping connect her with everything she needed to host a Sweet 16 party for her daughter. Corella said that communication and networking are key for a thriving Latino business community. Although she was sure that organizing a business group would be a lot of work, she felt confident that Padilla could lead the effort, because he seemed to have an endless network of contacts. She added that she hoped the chamber would help her realize her own dream of opening a beauty salon in Glen Cove with her sister this year.
Bolivar Corella, Soraida’s husband, an MRI technologist and the new chamber’s public relations officer, added that while the group would focus on the needs of Latino businesses, it would also welcome any business owners who would like to improve their relationships with the Latino community and learn how to best serve that demographic. With the Latino population on the rise, Padilla added, businesses should come to see these residents as potential employees, clients and competitors.
As the new chamber begins its work, its members hope to secure a place in this year’s Glen Cove St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Though the initial membership recruiting effort will focus on Glen Cove, Huntington and Port Washington, if the organization meets its 300-member goal this year, Padilla said, he hopes to expand its reach as far east as the Hamptons.
“It’s a great thing that we’re officially up and running,” Bolivar Corella said. “Now let’s give everyone a taste of that American dream.”