WASHINGTON - The following is an open letter from Javier Palomarez, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President: Dear members and friends of the USHCC: I want to also give special recognition to our Chamber Executive of the Year, Cindy Ramos Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Javier Palomarez: President & Chief Executive Officer DeVere Kutscher: Vice President of Communications Eduardo Pereira: Vice President of Business Development Manuel Cosme: Vice President of Finance & Operations Monica Fuentes: Director of Government Relations Jennifer Tarazon: Director of the USHCC Foundation Gissel Gazek Nicholas: Director of Business Memberships Leo Lainez: Director of Chamber Membership & Alliances
As the President and CEO of our organization, which represents more than 200 local chambers and serves as the national advocate for nearly three million Hispanic-owned businesses across our country, I am writing to share with you some recent successes. These achievements come at the conclusion of a robust year that has been filled with many “firsts” and record-breaking events.
2010 Convention Wrap-up
This year’s convention saw record attendance making this the first sold-out event in our organization's history. In addition, we held the first-ever Employee Resource Group (ERG) Summit. It was also the largest-ever in the country – bringing together unprecedented numbers of corporate employees from diverse affinity groups. Given the economic climate, we were fortunate to not only retain every one of our corporate sponsors from past years, but also recruit dozens of new corporate and Hispanic Business Enterprise (HBE) sponsors. The 31st National Convention attracted corporations such as Walmart and Wells Fargo, government leaders such as U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Texas Governor Rick Perry and scores of media outlets. We hosted 14 Fortune 500 CEOs, and held the first-ever Million Dollar Club – honoring the leading corporations in supplier diversity and the first-ever HBE Elite Luncheon – honoring the largest and fastest-growing Hispanic-owned companies in the U.S.
Additionally, we hosted a record number of exhibitors from the federal government - demonstrating our growing presence in the public sector, and more importantly, that Hispanics are being increasingly sought for federal and state contracts. In addition, SBA Administrator Marie Johns, MBDA Director David Hinson and USDA Administrator Judy Canales all attended our convention and addressed our supporters, members, chambers and sponsors. Finally, we hosted a sold-out Chamber Training Institute, where 47 participants representing 20 different local chambers attended a course on “Grant Writing & Fund Development.” Taught by expert professors from the University of Notre Dame, this 2-day certificate program provided members with the knowledge to increase chamber funding. The seminar was invaluable to our members who rely on this funding to run their organizations.
New Corporate Partners
Over the past year, we have forged new corporate partnerships for the USHCC. Several of these new partners represent strategic, multi-year, alliances valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Visa, ING, Goldman Sachs, 7-Eleven, Comcast and NBC Universal are in this category, with programs actively involving local chambers. In addition, the following corporations have committed to the organization for the first time with either a sponsorship or corporate membership: GE, Comerica Bank, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Capital One, Save-A-Lot Stores, Liberty Power, LinkAmerica, The Nielsen Company, Oncor Electric Delivery, Target, Energy Future Holdings, Tower Energy, Community Financial Services Association, US Bank, MasterCard Worldwide, Bloomberg, Tropicana Las Vegas and CIGNA to name a few. In Dallas alone, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), DFW Airport and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (DCVB) are all new partners.
New Hispanic Business Enterprise (HBE) Members
Today, America is waking up to a new economic reality. The future of our nation hinges on the success of our country’s small business communities. Almost 3 million of these businesses are a part of the dynamic group known as Hispanic Business Enterprises (HBE). At the USHCC, we are committed to advocating for the HBE. We think of it as a partnership that can offer powerful help to our nation's Hispanic business owners.
Our Power of Partnership program is all about the spirit of the entrepreneur: providing support and enhancing growth opportunities through networking, relationships, access, advocacy and a number of innovative tools and resources. Our initiatives include the production and airing of Hispanics Today, a television program highlighting our business owners and the creation of a powerful new advertising campaign – “Think Big. Buy Small” – which promotes the value of doing business with HBEs. Already, the following Hispanic businesses have committed to the USHCC by becoming our first HBE Members: Pinnacle Technical Resourses, EccoSelect, Los Kitos Entertainment, Cano Container, UDT, Geoscape, Group-O, Interblock Studios, and Creative Civilization to name a few.
Legislative & Regulatory
The USHCC has continued to be called upon to weigh in on key issues pending across different sectors of our government. We have re-focused our commitment to our three constituencies: our 210 local chambers across the country, our Hispanic Business Enterprises and our corporate partners, and have advocated on numerous issues in a variety of ways in 2010.
This past month, the USHCC, through the strength of our network of local chambers, weighed in heavily in support of the DREAM Act – bipartisan legislation that would have provided thousands of children of Hispanic descent with the opportunity to continue their education, serve our country and become meaningful contributors to our economy. The USHCC, with the sign-on of over 80 local chambers, sent a letter to every Member of Congress urging them to vote in favor of the DREAM Act. Additionally, our local chamber leaders placed calls to their Congressional leaders and I wrote an op-ed in favor of this legislation that appeared in the Capitol Hill newspapers. Together, we made sure that the position of the Hispanic business community resonated across the nation. Unfortunately, although this bill passed in the House, it did not pass in the Senate. At the USHCC we believe that comprehensive immigration reform is critical to the economic recovery of our country and we hope to see the DREAM Act included in a solution in the upcoming year.
The USHCC has also remained active on the Comcast-NBCU merger front. This month we met with decision makers at the Federal Communications Commission to express the benefits that our new partnership with Comcast and NBCU will bring to our community if this merger is approved. Benefits such as increased procurement opportunities for our HBEs and the re-launch of our television show, Hispanics Today, which will enable us to tell the story of the Hispanic entrepreneur who is instrumental in driving the economic recovery of our country.
Further, I have continued to work with the Senate Taskforce on Corporate Diversity, under the leadership of Senator Robert Menendez, to ensure that our businesses and our leaders are included at all meaningful levels in corporate America.
All our initiatives are reinforced by our legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts. I also participated earlier this fall in the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Panel on Monetary Policy and gave input on Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) policy, along with Secretary Geithner. Indeed, the USHCC has a presence inside the Beltway. The USHCC strongly advocated for various measures of the Small Business Jobs Bill and with your help, submitted over 100 letters in support of the bill to the Senate. We are particularly pleased that the Senate bill which passed included the Small Business Lending Fund Act, which opened lending channels, providing up to $30 billion in capital to small community banks that service our Hispanic businesses.
Procurement Services & Technical Assistance
The technical assistance grant from the Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided the platform for extending the reach of HBEs. In October, the USHCC held a webinar on the Women’s Contracting Rule and featured guest speaker, Ana Harvey, Assistant Administrator for Women’s Business Ownership at the SBA. Another webinar held this fall, “Bid and Proposal Development”, armed business owners with information on how to respond to federal RFPs and included pre-proposal actions, government actions, capture planning, proposal planning, development and proposal reviews.
The grant has also provided assistance in marketing for prime contracts with federal agencies and positioning and packaging Hispanic enterprises for subcontract opportunities with prime contractors.
The USHCC Procurement Newsletters have become a source of valuable information for our membership. They contain contract opportunities and RFP information and procurement related events such as seminars and webinars, as well as the latest information on legislative bills impacting businesses of all sizes.
We have been tireless in our involvement with our chambers and stand by our commitment to attend events and meetings nationwide, such as those I have personally attended this year in Dallas, Kansas City, McAllen, Tulsa, Rhode Island, Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, Houston, New York, San Antonio, Nashville, Chicago, Fort Worth, Long Beach, Fresno, San Jose, Ohio, Maryland and South Carolina to name only a few. I know that so many of our chambers have done incredible work serving their members in 2010. Once again, I wish congratulate this year’s Chamber of the Year award recipients:
As you are all aware, these great efforts require funding. Role models, passion, and sweat equity are not enough. While the past 12 months have been challenging, they have forced us as a national group and as local chambers to become stronger, more united, and more pragmatic. Our challenge is to leverage what we have recently gained to support our primary mission: to enhance the competitiveness and growth of the Hispanic business community.
We have recently added Leo Lainez to our staff. Leo is a return staff member of the USHCC, having served as Chamber Membership Coordinator from 2005 to 2007, and worked extensively with local chambers enhancing membership initiatives. We are pleased to have Leo back, to bolster our chamber membership and strategic alliance programs.
We have also re-aligned our current staff, in order to more effectively run the organization. USHCC staff roles and titles are the following:
WASHINGTON - The following is an open letter from Javier Palomarez, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President:
Dear members and friends of the USHCC:
I want to also give special recognition to our Chamber Executive of the Year, Cindy Ramos Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Vice President of Communications
Vice President of Business Development
Vice President of Finance & Operations
Director of Government Relations
Director of the USHCC Foundation
Gissel Gazek Nicholas:
Director of Business Memberships
Director of Chamber Membership & Alliances
Public Relations & Media Updates:
We have been engaged and voiced our opinions and concerns on the issues affecting our constituents. Just last month I was appointed by Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke to the National Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprises. I am honored to serve on this council, and view this appointment as an opportunity to represent our community’s interests in an additional official capacity.
The visibility and awareness of the USHCC has grown significantly through our dedicated public relations efforts. Articles have appeared in Poder, Latino Leaders, Latina Style, Hispanic Business, and MBE Magazines, as well as other business journals and major newspapers including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and numerous other publications and television networks such as Bloomberg, CNN and Univision, garnering millions of impressions.
In fact, most recently I was invited to submit an Editorial on the following current topics:
USHCC Foundation Updates
The USHCC Foundation has seen unprecedented growth this year with the Chamber Training Institute. In 2010, the USHCC signed an historic agreement with the University of Notre Dame, the first such strategic collaboration with a leading university in the history of our chamber.
In September, the University of Notre Dame conducted training on “Grant Writing & Fund Development” in Dallas. Chamber leaders were taught by Notre Dame Professors and industry experts and were also addressed by Texas Senator, John Cornyn and several of our corporate sponsors.
This month, twenty chamber leaders, representing nine different chambers from across the country, gathered in Houston, TX for training on “Board Governance.” In addition to completing the course and receiving certificates of completion, chamber leaders also exchanged best practices and met with Wells Fargo representatives to learn more about Hispanic initiatives within their organization.
Feedback from these events has been incredible, and I am happy to share just a few of the comments I’ve received:
“The USHCC Chamber Training Institute provided a learning experience that I can apply in my career for the benefit of our membership.”
- Varsovia Fernandez, President - Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
“The Board Governance training was impactful and very relevant."
- Dr. Laura G. Murillo, President and CEO - Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
"I thank the USHCC for putting on this training and for all of the support we received.”
- Martin Valadez, President - Tri-Cities HCC - Eastern Washington State
Please mark your calendars for future Chamber Training Institutes near you:
Los Angeles, February 16-20 – Nonprofit Certificate Program
Washington, DC, March 27 & 28 – Political Advocacy for Nonprofits
Chicago, June 12-16 – Nonprofit Certificate Program
The successes of 2010 would not be possible without a team of motivated, bright young staff and the guidance and leadership of our new nationally respected Chairman, Nina Vaca, and a dynamic Board of Directors. We look forward to a phenomenal 2011 under their leadership and guidance!
President & CEO
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce