New Michigan Media

June is Immigrant Heritage Month

By Mayté Penman, TechTown Detroit bicultural business strategist, and Amanda Saab, TechTown Detroit small business services director

Chapter 1

This month we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month by recognizing the huge role immigrant entrepreneurs play by driving innovation and job growth. They are a critical component of the resilient Detroit economy.

In 2020-2021, TechTown served 1,731 entrepreneurs— 12% were immigrants. We’re highlighting business owners and their stories of how they overcame their fears and confronted the unknown, as well as what continues to inspire them to be the best they can be.

La Jaliscience Taqueria and Market (México) Leslie Vargas 3923 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48216

Q: What is your business and how did you get started as an immigrant?

A: I’m part of the third generation in my family of storekeepers. Our family business is La Jalisciense Taqueria and Market, which is a family-owned business with Mexican products and a restaurant. We are a family of six, working side by side as a team to create a way to connect our roots from Jalisco back to our community, and to serve those who are far away from home. Our goal when people walk into La Jalisciense is an experience that connects back to our roots that we left behind for a better opportunity to pursue the American dream, just like my parents did for my brothers and me. I enjoy and love what I do, which is helping my parents grow our business with the purpose of connecting back our clients with their hometown, with a product or a taste of our food.

Q: What are you most proud of as an immigrant entrepreneur?

A: Looking back and admiring what my parents have done for us as a family by coming to an unknown country with no help or knowledge on how to start a business in the States. Especially when you are new to the English language and must overcome a language barrier. My parents are a huge inspiration. They put aside their fear and comfort to start a new home somewhere else and work hard every single day to make our family business successful. I want my family to be proud and will continue taking advantage of this amazing opportunity that my parents gave my brothers and me.

Q: What resources do you recommend for immigrant entrepreneurs?

A: Detroit has a lot to offer small businesses that are family-owned and are led by immigrants, minorities and women who need help overcoming struggles such as understanding new laws, language barriers, programs, marketing, technology, permits, city restrictions and many more. The best resources are the small organizations that want the community to grow and provide sensational resources with information on a range of topics to help your business be successful. But more importantly, they are accessible in many different languages. I am so thankful to have crossed paths with amazing and kind people that have helped me grow as a person and grow our business in the best direction.

El Salpicon Restaurant (México) Yuriviana Angel 8600 Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209

Q: What is your business and how did you get started as an immigrant?

A: Our business is a Mexican restaurant specializing inseafood. We started our adventure in a food truck in the summer of 2015. Due to the success and support of the people in February 2016, we offi cially opened our business, El Salpicon Restaurant. The business consists of three owners, Aldo Perez, Esteban Perez and Yuriviana Angel, that make the food unique and incomparable in the heart of Southwest Detroit. We are passionate about cooking, as well as letting you know a little about our culture, traditions and food. What are you most proud of as an immigrant entrepreneur? It is a true honor to be a 100% Mexican immigrant. We are proud to have Mexican roots and to be part of thousands of people who immigrated to this country — a country where you have thousands of opportunities to make your dreams come true. But what makes us most proud is being able to share our gastronomy with the world and being able to taste the palates of people with nationalities and cultures different from ours.

Q: What motivates you the most professionally?

A: Our greatest motivation is showing our people in the community that with effort and dedication, anything is possible, it does not matter if you are an immigrant or if you do not speak the language. We have many organizations like TechTown among others that guide us to break those barriers and imaginary fears that we immigrants have.

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