Google pushing to get more Latino-owned small businesses online

Google employee Blair Schwab, left, helps business owner Edith Gonzalez set up her new website. Gonzalez, a graphic designer from Boyle Heights, says she hopes to attract more business with the site.
(Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times)

Google Inc. is expanding its push to help more small businesses get online, this time en español.

The Internet search giant held a free seminar Tuesday to teach Latino business owners how to create and manage their websites and promote their businesses.

At a production studio in Los Angeles’ warehouse district — transformed for the day with colorful chairs and candy jars — Google employees explained in Spanish how to register domains, set up Google Alerts and use tools such as Google Calendar and Google Docs. Among those at the seminar were handymen, travel agents and insurance brokers.


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“I have had many clients ask me if I have a website,” said Alejandro Gerakos, 34, a West Covina makeup artist who works for independent film studios. Gerakos, who said she didn’t see the importance of being online before, hopes the website will help her draw more local referrals and make her less reliant on work that requires travel. Her contract work often sends her as far as San Diego or San Francisco.

The Los Angeles event was only the second time Google has presented the program, launched in 2011, in Spanish. A similar event was held in Miami last week. It’s the latest effort the company has made in a push to increase its presence in the expanding Latino market.

Latino-owned businesses are growing faster than any other sector of the population, according to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. But Google says its data show nearly 60% of Latino-owned businesses in California don’t have websites.

“These people definitely want to be online because their target customer happens to be online, too,” said Mark Lopez, Google’s head of U.S. Hispanic audience. “Today, there’s a great deal of searching happening in Spanish.”

“This is the center, the heart, the soul of the Latino market in the Untied States of America,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who attended the event. Speaking in Spanish, Villaraigosa addressed the participants, many of whom snapped photos with their cellphones, calling the event a “crucial service for Latino businesses.”



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