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10,000 steps every Friday 

January 20, 2023 | Diversity, equity and inclusion

Juan Pablo Marquez gets his steps in at BMO – over 10,000 steps every Friday, which he spends walking the central business district on 26th Street in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood with colleagues Marco Garcia and Letticia Flores-Poole. 

Little Village is a mostly Mexican community, with a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit. There are over 2,600 businesses in Little Village, ranging from party planning businesses, quinceañera dress stores, ice cream shops, and restaurants.  While Chicago’s Michigan Ave Mag Mile shopping district is known the world over as a destination retail district, few know the Little Village business district (just one neighborhood in the city of Chicago), is the second-largest business district in the state.

These businesses have been in Little Village for decades, passed down within generations of the same families. Most of these Little Village businesses successfully managed to keep their doors open during the pandemic, but still struggled with information to help them adapt to new ways of doing business. 

“I grew up in a family where my parents never had any financial education. We lost our house in 2009 because my parents didn’t understand their loan product. In my own family, it became clear then that building confidence in our financial decision making was necessary to protecting our most-valuable assets,” he said.

Because he’s lived it, Juan Pablo delivers a simple message to every business owner on his Friday walks: your money and your financial progress should not be a surprise to you.

His mission on those Fridays is to connect those business owners with the education and resources to help them understand credit, cash flow, creating business plans, and planning for retirement.

“The financial education needs on 26th Street are as diverse as the types of businesses located there.  You have to know that to build relationships from a foundation of trust and empathy. BMO understands conversations about financial wellness need to be as diverse as the Latino community. I’m proud we have the cultural context and the shared experience to help our community.”

In addition to the steps that Juan Pablo will put in again this year in the community, starting next month he is excited to partner with Mujeres Latina in Accion for a series of financial education workshops for women-owned businesses who are survivors of domestic abuse. 

BMO’s Bank at Work teams work with business banking customers to bring together sound financial advice, customized support and banking products to strengthen their employees’ financial health.  Juan Pablo works as a Relationship Manager for Bank at Work – he started 10,000-Step-Fridays in Little Village soon after joining the team. 

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