Many small Latino business owners find more advantages in doing business in the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia because of numerous challenges encountered when owning a business inside the city.
One such business person is Sara Campo, who came to the United States 38 years ago from Colombia. She studied to become a nurse in Pennsylvania but discovered she couldn’t work the hours required of nurses because she needed to take care of her children. Campo had to find another way to make a living and began cleaning.
Campo started Evasar Cleaning Services, LLC. in 2009. She lives and runs her business in Bensalem. The Evasar crews start their work day between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Sometimes the crew finishes work at 2 p.m. Other days work is wrapped up at 5 p.m.
The cleaning crew can spend up to four hours driving between jobs in one day. The company van is often filled with gas three times a week.
Six workers made up the Evasar crew that recently cleaned several apartments at an apartment community in Delaware County. Evasar currently cleans for five different apartment communities located in Chester and Delaware Counties. Campo said she chooses to clean in these counties because the residences are nicer, she doesn’t have to worry about the safety of her or her staff plus better pay is guaranteed.
Campo said, “We don’t work in Philadelphia for safety reasons.”
Campo also said lower taxes are a prime reason she works and lives outside of the Philadelphia city limits.
Rosie Morales is one of the crew members working for Evasar. When asked about the difference between working outside of Philadelphia rather than inside the city Morales said, “There are more opportunities and it pays better.”
Morales is from Hidalgo, Mexico. She arrived in Pennsylvania in 1999. Morales has been working as a professional cleaner for several years. Her entire family is here. She is happy where she lives and works. Morales plans to stay for a long time.
Tito Cuevas owns Tito’s Contracting LLC. in Drexel Hill. He also cited taxes as one of the main reasons he started his business outside of Philadelphia. Cuevas said he believes many Latino business owners choose to run their businesses outside of Philadelphia to avoid the higher tax rates.
According to the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, Philadelphia’s Business Income and Receipts Tax rate is 6.45 percent on taxable net income. That rate is a reason driving some business owners out of the city.
Luis Gayoso is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a financial adviser at Nationwide. When asked if there is a difference between opening a business in Philadelphia and outside of the city Gayoso said, ” Absolutely. Quality of clients, safety, traffic, even expenses depending on where you are.”
The GPHCC coverage area is large. It includes Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. Additionally the organization’s area includes the City of Camden, N.J., Atlantic City, N.J., and the City of Wilmington, Del.
The 2010 U.S. Census indicated that the Hispanic population in the Philadelphia region grew by 58 percent between 2000 and 2010. In Berks County, the Hispanic population grew by 85 percent, in Bucks County by 91 percent, in Chester County by 102 percent, in Delaware County by 98 percent, in Montgomery County by 124 percent and in Philadelphia County by 45 percent.
Philadelphia County’s Hispanic population may have grown by the smallest margin, but it was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau that Hispanics made up 11.7 percent of Philadelphia’s population in 2009.
Many Latinos live in North Philadelphia. One of these Latinos is Bienvenido “Philli” Herrera.
Herrera has been living in the U.S. for 20 years. Herrera first lived in New York after he left his home in Santo Domingo, the capital city of in the Dominican Republic. He later moved to Philadelphia. For the past four years Herrera has owned and operated Philli’s Food Market at the intersection of North Fifth and Cayuga atreets.
Herrera remembers Philadelphia in the early 1990s. He said, “It was very dirty.” But now, he added, “a lot has already changed.”
There were barely any stores back in the 1990s on the blocks north of Cayuga Street and on North Fifth Street. There may have been three stores Herrera thought. Now many line the street.
Herrera said most of the Latino-owned food markets in Philadelphia are owned by Dominicans. “They [Dominicans] like being their own boss. They don’t like working for someone else,” he added.
Herrera said he likes working and running a business, but he doesn’t like paying the high taxes that come with it. He also spoke of the dangers in owning a store in Philadelphia. Having a security camera in the store is necessary.
Herrera would like to have another business that would grant him the liberty to travel between Philadelphia and the Dominican Republic. He is working 14-hour days at the food market and the store is open every day of the week. His father Pedro Herrera, who is 78, keeps Herrera company at work.