By: Tomas G. Michel – Sept. 2019
“The everyday person is no longer voiceless or passive” —Jacob Benbunan, Disruptive Branding
After the Columbia Gas explosion disaster on September 13 of 2018, the business community of Lawrence faced a harsh reality they had to acknowledge the hard way: their lack of sustainability. There was a wide array of malpractices within the business’ operations, which came afloat when many of the owners attempted to file a claim with the CG Adjusters and were unable to successfully process it. Moreover, a good chunk that did submitted a full claim, was unable to receive compensation for their losses. Many of the businesses were too informal —lacking a solid structure— or relevant documentation to back up many of the allegations they were advocating for. In certain cases, businesses would even operate on a deficit.
During the post-disaster period, many residents were struggling to maintain their commerce afloat against all odds, which in the majority of the cases was the main sustain for their families.
They did not possess the tools or resources to continue operating, facing consequences as clientele loss, due to being located in the affected area. Concepts like a business plan, market research or a value proposition many would not grasp, only compounding the negative outcomes. Furthermore, marketing was a notion not entirely maneuvered, and sometimes referred to as unnecessary; subtracting the establishment visibility in the community.
This would only deepen the wounds that initiated with the incident but perpetrated by the inability of sound management many business owners exercised.
A young Entrepreneur stepped into the gloomy picture, whom with a grassroot organizing approach, started to outreach with the Non-Profit organization EParaTodos in the Relief Effort Project. He directly assisted businesses with creating, modifying and even rebranding their whole images. While creating logos, flyers or brochures for different enterprises, he would also teach them about effective marketing strategies. Also, created and hosted hands-on workshops, in both English and Spanish, to give attendees knowledge to promote their venture more efficiently.
Jorge’s work has been recognized by the city of Lawrence with a Community Champion Certificate from the Mayor’s Office, for helping the community throughout the disaster; also, by the State of Massachusetts, for its positive impact in local businesses, altruistic performance and social responsibility.
He has participated with a lead role on the play I survived, directed by Bianca Ramirez and co-starred by the actress Dascha Polanco from Orange is the New Black. Has assisted in creating videography for the David Ortiz Children’s Fund and will be a panelist for the EForAll Summit to take place this upcoming October 2nd at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. Without forgetting that in 2016 he launched his urban clothing line Aurea Vestes.
Despite the fact that according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency a 40 to 60 percent of the small businesses do not reopen after a catastrophe, Jorge and his platform have been defying gravity. Becoming the outsourced marketing department for many small businesses that did not have the capacity to engage in visibility efforts, especially in the digital world.
Leveraging every opportunity available was imperative to surpass the tragedy.
Empowering and training business owners to lead their marketing efforts by exposing them to channels available is one of the main goals of Jorge’s Company. “Simple things like registering in Google My Business or create a flyer for a product/service promotion in the Canva application, can make all the difference” says Veloz.
While being part of the EParaTodos’ Entrepreneurship Committee, he is developing efforts like the LatinX Networking Events to connect the local business community with social capital such as the Former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, Rufus Gifford and the Economist Jonathan D’Oleo.
He looks forward for Pentagon Studio to grow to create employments and continue giving back to the community in other capacities. ◊