Latino Nonprofit Helping Businesses For Over 20 Years
The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) has been assisting Latino businesses in Montgomery County and Washington, D.C, for a combination of over 20 years. They provide owners with financial tools and skills to start or expand their entrepreneurial ventures.
MyMCMedia’s Community Engagement Specialist Tamika Smith sat down with Ash Kosiewicz who is the Communications and Advocacy Director.
Tamika Smith: When did Latino Economic Development Center begin?
Ash Kosiewicz: On a warm spring night in 1991, a Latino man was shot by a DC police officer leading to several days of violent clashes and millions of dollars in property damages in the DC neighborhood of Mount Pleasant. Soon thereafter, a visionary group of bankers, business professionals and civil rights activists came together to launch the Latino Economic Development Corporation of Washington, DC (LEDC).
In 2006, LEDC expanded into Montgomery County.
Smith: What was the inspiration behind starting one in Montgomery County?
Kosiewicz: Montgomery County needed a trusted Latino organization with a track record of success to help businesses prepare for redevelopment in Wheaton, and LEDC answered the call. Soon after, in response to the housing crisis, LEDC created a Foreclosure Prevention initiative to help Latinos and other Montgomery County residents save their homes after many lost their jobs. LEDC’s comprehensive approach to community-based economic development provided a lifeline for many Montgomery County businesses and residents who wanted to start or expand a small business or save their homes from foreclosure and keep alive their dream of homeownership.
Smith: What do you hear from individuals who receive support? How does it affect them?
Kosiewicz: Families and individuals that work with LEDC often talk about the professionalism of LEDC’s services and how staff work incredibly hard to help turn their dreams into a reality. For homeowners facing foreclosure, the stressful process through which families confront this challenge is made more bearable with the guidance of a bilingual housing counselor who understands how to work well with banks to get a home loan modification.
Margarita Garcia remarked:
“LEDC reviewed my financial documents and explained to me in detail the modification process. They helped me get organized, put together a budget, and present my earnings correctly to the bank. This made the difference in the end, and LEDC never gave up even though the modification was denied two times.”
Smith: Why do you think it’s important for organizations like yours to exist in the county?
Kosiewicz: LEDC is the only organization in the Washington region that provides a combination of homeownership, tenant, and small business services. By learning how to buy and stay in their homes, keep their rental housing affordable, and start or expand a small businesses, LEDC believes that Montgomery County will be stronger when all families have the power to achieve financial independence and join with their neighbors to improve their quality of life.
As a bilingual, bicultural organization, LEDC’s cultural competence and bilingual staff help LEDC deliver services in both English and Spanish – which is vital given the growth of the Latino community in Montgomery County.
Smith: Do you have any major projects coming up?
Kosiewicz: LEDC will be one of two featured nonprofits at the Bethesda Big Train baseball game on July 14 at Shirley Povich Field in Cabin John Regional Park. The Bethesda Big Train offers exciting baseball, great food choices, and fun entertainment at affordable prices for the entire family! For more information about the Big Train.
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