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UNO releases study about pandemic impact on South Omaha businesses

The pandemic hit South Omaha's Latino-owned business community hard.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 5:57 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The pandemic hit South Omaha’s Latino-owned business community hard.

According to a recent study released by UNO around 70% of business owners interviewed for the study said the pandemic created a crisis for their business.

The report revealed that two out of three Latino-owned businesses had to reduce their budgets and their staff early on in the pandemic.

Claudiai Rodreguez opened Mi bella Honduras restaurant just as the pandemic hit.

“Usually we open like 7 a.m. and we close at 10 p.m., so by the pandemic, we had to open maybe by 11 a.m. in the morning and we close at 7 p.m. because we don’t have too much business,” said Rodreguez.

Claudiai’s restaurant and other Latino businesses in South Omaha and around the country were more vulnerable to the effects of COVID, the language barrier just one of the issues creating difficulties.

“In many cases, they had less access to financial resources like loans they had, they had a lower percentage of insurance coverage among their workers, and for many of these businesses it was harder for them to go remote,” said Dr. Cristian Dona.

Dr. Cristian Dona co-authored the study, he also points out that Latino businesses in South Omaha were very stable before COVID hit.

Dr. Dona says federal COVID relief funds should help the Latino business community bounce back

“It is a pity that something of this magnitude had to happen for South Omaha to receive this type of assistance.”

Dr. Dona says without the federal assistance it might have taken the South Omaha business community decades to return to pre-pandemic economic levels. Dona tells 6 News there are small businesses that are now even hoping to expand.

“As the cumulative effects that that small business has on other workers and family members on the opportunities of kids finishing high school in South Omaha and eventually getting to the university and having degrees and be able to help more the community and the city.”

More than 120 Latino business owners were interviewed for the study.

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