This year LEDC would like to recognize 7 outstanding business owners, students, and community members. Watch our interviews with the business owners at the bottom of this page or by clicking here. You can view more information about these awards, see past winners, and nominate someone by clicking here.
Latina Entrepreneur of the Year: Sonia Ortega
This award was established in order to acknowledge the important contributions of Latinas in the economy and community. Recipients of this award are known for being active in their community, honest and ethical leaders, and hard-working, successful Latina entrepreneurs. They must also have no known complaints about their business practices at the time of the award.
Sonia Ortega is the owner of Plaza del Sol and Las 3 B Auto Sales among her many business ventures. Her businesses are staples of the East Saint Paul community. You can see Plaza del Sol and try some delicious food or visit her barber school at 990 Payne Avenue, St. Paul, MN.
Socially Responsible Business of the Year: InspectuCasa IC Inspections LLC
This award recognizes a business that has demonstrated leadership in the Latino community, a generous donation of time and work to community activities, or has provided economic support to community based institutions. These businesses should provide a healthy work environment and benefits, be respectful and fair with employees, and provide them with incentives and professional development opportunities. A socially responsible business is honest, ethical, and responsible, and has no public complaints about their practices.
Luis Alcaraz, owner of InspectuCasa, has spent over 200 hours providing housing training for the community in nonprofit organizations so that home buyers can make informed decisions when purchasing a home. He is also a participating inspector for the Truth in Housing program. Luis is the only Latino ASHI certified housing inspector in Minnesota as of May 2017.
Special Recognition, Entrepreneur of the Year: Jose Garcia
Jose Garcia, of Mi Pueblito Market, began working with LEDC back in 2013. He decided to buy a building and open a grocery store in Long Prairie, and recently, Jose expanded his business to add a meat market and restaurant. In 2016, his sales were over $400,000, and he has created three full time jobs for others.
Friend of the Community: Jose Gonzalez
The friend of the community award recognizes those who engage in unpaid, socially conscious activities in the Latino community. Recipients of this award include volunteers who have made generous donations of time and work to LEDC or other Latino organizations or movements, and are honest and ethical people deserving of recognition.
Jose Gonzalez is highly involved with the Latino community. He dedicated many hours to LEDC and the Latino Scholarship Fund as a volunteer, among many other organizations promoting leadership and advancement of the Latino community. Soon after volunteering with LEDC, Jose was chosen as the executive director for LatinoLEAD, an organization whose mission is to advance Latinos’ collective influence, success, and power. You can read more about LatinoLEAD here.
LEDC Student of the Year: Ana Luisa Leana
Since 2015, LEDC has chosen a student of the year from among it’s English, computer, GED, pre-GED, or business classes to be recognized as an outstanding example to other adult learners. These students are excited to learn and participate in class, show significant growth, demonstrate leadership in the classroom, and have excellent attendance.
This year, LEDC recognizes Ana Luisa Leana for her excellent progress in the English classes, perfect attendance, and passion for learning both in class and at home. She is also notably active in the community, regularly helping to organize fundraisers on Friday nights at Las Mojarras in Minneapolis for those struggling to pay medical expenses.
Special Recognition, External Student of the Year: Maria Cecilia Guzman
This year, the awards committee decided to extend a special recognition to a student who was nominated for student of the year, but was not a student of LEDC. Maria Cecilia Guzman has demonstrated commendable leadership in her community as a student, managing many responsibilities at home, school, and through volunteer work in St. Cloud.
Farmer of the Year: Javier Garcia
This year, we have begun honoring an exemplary farmer as part of our annual business awards to acknowledge the importance of Latinos in Minnesotan agriculture. This award will go to farmers who grow their community and create economic value while maintaining safe, environmentally sustainable practices. These farmers take initiative and show innovation in agriculture.
As a founder and member of the Agua Gorda Cooperative Farm, Javier is at the heart of the co-op’s operations. Under his management and dedication, Agua Gorda was able to increase sales by nearly ten-fold in three years, purchase 54 acres in 2015, and add two green houses in 2016. Agua Gorda is a wonderful example of the potential of cooperative farming.