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Press Release



PTIC-New York Trade Commissioner Benedict Uy (via zoom) interacts with guest panelists from the home health business sector. (Photo by Ms. Cheryl Navarro)

CHICAGO 26 March 2024 - In cooperation with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (DCEO-OMEE), and with the participation of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Chicago (PACCGC) and the Chicago Asian Network (CAN), the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago organized the “Small Business Seminar for Home Health Care and Food Establishment Entrepreneurs and Business Owners” at the National Louis University on 21 March 2024.

The three-hour hybrid session addressed the clamor of Filipino-American small businesses, which were mainly concentrated in the home health care and food establishment sectors, for information and assistance as they continued to face an uncertain future in a post-pandemic economy. The seminar provided detailed information on advisory services, available financial incentives and support, sourcing inputs and services from the Philippines, and networking opportunities to assist the home health care and food establishment business owners in their operations and expansion plans.

In her welcome remarks, Consul General J. Susana V. Paez conveyed that the seminar was mainly an economic diplomacy outreach to Filipino-American and other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) entrepreneurs and business owners. The Consul General also emphasized that there is scope to harness the Philippines’ strengthening political-security partnership with the U.S. to further enhance trade and investment ties that are mutually beneficial to both countries, including through symbiotic solutions that generate economic activity and meaningful jobs for small businesses in both countries. The seminar, which featured women in positions of responsibility in the public and private sectors, also marked the celebration of Philippine National Women’s Month and US Women’s History Month.

U.S. SBA Region V Administrator Geri Sanchez Aglipay, one of the highest ranking Filipino-American officials in the Biden Administration, delivered the keynote remarks. She noted that efforts to strengthen Philippine-US economic relations was a testament to the special friendship between the two countries. Other guest speakers were Illinois DCEO-OMEE Deputy Director Rebecca Estrada and Women’s Business Development Manager Michelle Lura White, PACCGC President Aurora Abella-Austriaco, and CAN Lady Luminary of Learning and Development Padma Mangharam Siap. They shared advisory services, available financial incentives, and support and networking opportunities for business owners representing the two sectors. Illinois DCEO-OMEE AAPI Business Development Manager Edwin Tumlos served as master of ceremonies.

Consul General J. Susana V. Paez (left) and US SBA Region V Administrator Geri Sanchez Aglipay (right) delivering remarks at the seminar.

As a culminating activity, several owners from the home health care and food establishment industries shared their experiences and the challenges they faced as start-up companies in back-to-back panel discussions. In particular, Atty. Gerardo Dean, owner of the multi-awarded chocolate shop Chocs ‘N Boxes, discussed how he sources cacao beans from Samar in a sustainable manner. Home health enterprises were also beginning to rely on IT-BPM companies in the Philippines for their backroom operations, enabling them to focus on operational healthcare needs and address manpower shortages.

Business owners were also able to interact with Philippine Trade and Investment Center - New York Trade Commissioner Benedict Uy, who provided guidance and insights on how home health care enterprises and food establishments could source services, products and inputs from the Philippines to help facilitate their operations and expansion plans.

The Philippine Consulate General received positive feedback on the seminar from participants who hoped for follow-up activities, including those for other industries. Participants were also pleased to meet Trade Commissioner Uy, and the business community looked forward to more engagements with him to assist in their commercial requirements. END

Co-owner Marilou Wee (left) shares her experience running Hong Ning restaurant as (L-R) panelists Geri Guidote Hernandez (co-owner, Savory Crust) and Atty. Gerry Dean (co-owner, Chocs ‘N Boxes) and moderator Padma Siap listen intently. (Photo by Ms. Cheryl Navarro)

Consul General J. Susana Paez (fourth from left) poses with guest speakers (L-R) Ms. Rebecca Estrada, Ms. Aurora Abella-Austriaco, Ms. Geri Sanchez Aglipay, Ms. Michelle Lura White, and Ms. Padma Mangharam Siap. Also in photo is Mr. Edwin Tumlos, Master of Ceremonies (right) . (Photo by Ms. Cheryl Navarro)