The Take Action series highlights initiatives that are making a difference in our communities. We honor those who refuse to be bystanders.

Emilio, a single father of one, dreamed of taking his favorite hobby of car repair to the next level – owning his own mechanic shop. But where could he turn to make that dream into a reality?

Midlands Latino Community Development Corporation (MLCDC) of Omaha helped Emilio by providing him assistance with a business plan and other advice on owning and operating a business in Nebraska. And Emilio isn’t alone. The MLCDC, which opened in 2006, has helped create and grow about 60 businesses each year.

“In its first few years of operation, MLCDC has established successful business development programs, lending practices, and resources that support the growth of Latino-led businesses and help Latino families help themselves by establishing successful foundations and growth strategies for their businesses,” said Executive Director Marta Sonia Londoño Mejía.

MLCDC offers Latinos classes in childcare, business and computers.

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“MLCDC is the only organization reaching out to immigrant populations with this type of training,” said Londoño.

The Child Care Development Center was launched in 2009. It has provided formal training and ongoing education to 165 people and businesses. The childcare program is supported through a partnership with the Provider’s Network.

“In a young population with relatively high birth rates, MLCDC has developed a successful program that supports the creation of child care businesses to meet state licensing requirements and other regulations and to create jobs,” said Londoño.

The program assists child care owners with understanding and meeting code requirements and encourages all owners to strive to secure licensing. The center offers a class called “How to Start and Manage A Child Care” which focuses on meeting state and local codes, legal requirements for business and other regulations according to Londoño.

Londoño said that one goal of MLCDC is to start a chain reaction.

“These women improve the lives of the children in their houses, and they improve the lives of their own families and the families who use their services,” she said. “Those families improve their friends and neighbors.”

MLCDC has a micro-lending business program and assists Latinos with business planning, securing credit and education and networking.

“MLCDC works individually with each owner to develop the business plan, providing technical assistance and considerable expertise,” said  Londoño. “Business plans are tailored to address start-up and/or ongoing management and operations.”

The micro-lending program helps small businesses that have no access to bank loans. They further educate business owners by sponsoring educational breakfasts to bridge Latino-owned businesses and other small business, according to Londoño.

Londoño said MLCDC will begin a program in April that will partner with Contractors Development Services and will help improve the skills and education of Latino contractors who want to work for the city of Omaha.

“Some of the barriers that minority contractors have a present are the following: education, capital access, bonding, contracting and processing of the contracts,” said Londoño.”

A sense of community is behind the success of MLCDC.

“MLCDC is the product of a strong community work,” said Londoño. “We do not have a big budget, but we have incredible relationships and support of individuals and companies. We have obtained great results with minimal resources.”

How can I get involved?

For more information about MLCDC, you can contact them 402-933-4466. They are located at 4923 South 24th Street, Ste 201, Omaha, NE 68107.

Elizabeth Elliott is a freelancer for Fox News Latino.

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