How Mexican consulate, set to open in New Brunswick, will aim to help entrepreneurs

Country’s 1st office in N.J. also will help with passports, IDs — and run programs on education, health and financial literacy

Mariana Diaz, the longtime diplomat who has been charged with opening a consulate for Mexico in New Brunswick, said she’s not sure when it will open or where it will be.

“Those are the things that we’re working on now,” she said.

But Diaz, who has served in similar diplomatic roles in New York City, Denver, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., is certain what the consulate will do: Help Mexican nationals in a variety of ways — including starting businesses.

Diaz said the consulate, in conjunction with Mexico, will offer a six-month program aimed at educating entrepreneurs — with an emphasis on females — on the various stages of opening a business.

“It’s an online program that has had great success elsewhere,” she said. “The point of the program is to give those who have a business, or who want to open a business, the tools to do so. We will teach them about the resources that are available and help them connect with organizations that can help, like the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

“It’s a program that has been launched in practically all Mexican consulates in the U.S., and it’s gotten very good results, very positive results.”

Luis de la Hoz, the chairman of the Hispanic Chamber, said his group is eager to help however it can.

“We are ready to help anyone in the Hispanic community,” he said. “We are so happy that Mexico has opened a consulate here. We know it will be a big help.”

That Mexico has not had a consulate here previously may be a surprise to many. After all, the last census showed Mexico had more than 239,000 residents in New Jersey. It’s a number that is believed to be the highest among Latin American countries in New Jersey — and a number that is believed to be much lower than reality.

Mexico joins Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador as Latin American countries with a consulate in the state.

Diaz said the office will provide an array of services, including obtaining a passport, consular ID card and birth certificates. More than that, it will provide numerous programs, including how to register to vote, or classes on education, health and financial literacy. It also will provide legal services, whenever possible.

More than anything, it will provide an option for Mexican nationals in the state of New Jersey, rather than heading to New York City or Philadelphia (which some may still choose to do).

“The Mexican community that has been growing over the years here obviously needs consular services to be provided, preferably in New Jersey,” Diaz said.

Mexico chose New Brunswick due to the city’s central location — and its incredibly large Mexican population. The city has one of the highest concentrations of Hispanics in the state, and large majority of them are from Mexico — with a large number being from Oaxaca.

De la Hoz said he’s thrilled by the development.

“Going to New York City for services can be overwhelming,” he said. “This consulate will be a big help.”