Action Lab

The goal is to stabilize, grow and accelerate equitable recovery of Latino small businesses and to catalyze investment in Latino majority cities needed for long-term economic growth.

Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Steering Committee

As our city begins to map out its path to small business recovery and growth in the wake of COVID-19, it must be intentional in its efforts to stabilize and grow its small business economy – particularly within the Latino/Hispanic communities most heavily impacted by the pandemic.

To support local learning efforts around how to best develop intentional equitable economic recovery strategies, take action, and navigate potential opportunities for federal and state stimulus, the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society (AILAS) program, and a national consulting team from Drexel’s University Metro Finance Lab, and Christopher Gergen from Forward Impact, have launched the inaugural City Learning and Action Lab. A 12 months program that looks to provide opportunities for cross-city and intra-city learning with other 4 Latino-majority cities/communities aiming at how to best reimagine Latino small business economies in their city and take coordinated action on behalf of Latino-owned businesses. 


Our 12 Month Engagement

The 12-month engagement includes engaging and forming an entrepreneurial ecosystem steering committee, composed of a group of 8-10 cross-sector and diverse stakeholders that can speak to (& assess) the health of the region’s Latino small business economy. The program includes a set of quarterly facilitated learning workshops around five core entrepreneurial ecosystem pillars – access to capital, supplier diversity, entrepreneurial support organizations, sector diversification, and sector growth, and commercial/Mainstreet corridors – connections with Federal policymakers and national funders, a city-specific baseline analysis and dashboard reflecting the current state of the city’s Latino small business economy, and other valuable program components.


The lab is aimed at developing a data-driven, community informed go-forward action plan focused on 1-2 high-impact priorities, and help identify potential sources of local, state, and federal resources to support the implementation of our desired action of choice.


To help inform this work at the local level, our city’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Steering Committee (EESC). The EESC will ultimately include a combination of entrepreneurs, small business owners, entrepreneurial support organizations, capital providers, a data partner, commercial developers, elected and/or city economic development officials, supply chain experts, and community leaders who represent a broad and diverse cross-section of the local Latino small business economy.

Action Lab Partners

Laura Butler, Executive Director, Pioneers 21

Ed Escudero, Vice Chairman, President & CEO, High Desert Capital

Joseph Ferguson, Executive Director, Small Business Development Center

Maria Fernanda Fiscal, Program Manager, UTEP Mike Loya Center

Michael Hernandez, Executive Director, El Paso County

Jessica Herrera, Economic Development, Director, City of El Paso

Mayra Maldonado, Director, Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness

Lupe Mares, Vice President, Lift Fund

Beto Pallares, Venture Capitalist, Sun Cruces Angels

Joseph Sapien, CEO (Anchor Partner) Success Through Technology Education Foundation

Frank Spencer, Owner, Aztec Contractors

Marybeth Stevens, President/CEO, Better Business Bureau

“When you have people together who believe in something – things happen.”

– Cesar Chavez

Press Release

Download Press Release (August 19, 2021) Here

Important Dates

Action After Five – Networking Event
Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 5:30 PM MST
STTE Foundation
2601 N. Stanton St., Suite A
El Paso, Texas 79902


  • Mid August Intracity Meeting around ecosystem priority
  • Early September 2 Full Cohort Meeting
  • Oct 27-28 Summit Fostering Economic Resilience in Latino Cities and Communities, Washington, DC
“This is the first program of its kind focused on Latino majority cities and communities to strengthen local entrepreneurial ecosystems,” said Domenika Lynch, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program. “There's tremendous innovation happening in Latino communities as they work to rebuild after Covid-19, but access to capital, capacity building, and collaboration are needed to scale impact. The City Learning and Action Lab empowers and enhances local leaders' efforts to attract capital investment and resources to Latino communities where they live and operate. What is so exciting is that local funders are embracing our vision of curating Latino-centric communities to learn, innovate together, and connect to national networks to catalyze change in their local communities.”
Domenika Lynch
Executive Director