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Veronica Cool: Latino Boom Spells Opportunity

Tuesday, December 1, 2015  
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By: Veronica Cool

 

I was momentarily disillusioned after some recent news on violence and disappointing economic data. And then a gala had my cup running over with joy.

 

As a recovering banker-turned-entrepreneur, I went to the 2015 Maryland Hispanic Chamber Business Awards gala. No, don’t stop reading – this is not the usual ho-hum, rubber-chicken evening. Far from it. The event was emblematic of the exciting demographic typhoon sweeping our country.

 

In Maryland alone, there are over 40,000-plus Hispanic businesses. More than nine percent of the population is Latino. And 1 in 4 kindergarteners today are Latino.

 

Since their food is so delicious, the Latino population growth is tolerated by most people. But my goal today is to highlight the great news, the business and cultural opportunities stemming from this explosive growth, and to dispel some of the needless concerns some may have.

What opportunities you say? Well, Hispanic businesses are being established at three times the national average. These entrepreneurs need accounting and legal services, just to name a few. And their families have more than $1.5 TRILLION in purchasing power.

 

Now, do you begin to see?

So, how do YOU engage them? Sell to them?

Hispanics are not monolithic. Not all of us speak “Mexican” or dance salsa. Some don’t even speak Spanish. But there are common denominators, including relationship-driven loyalty and a shared culture deeply rooted in family. Traditional marketing isn’t as effective with the Hispanic community – but there are unique opportunities.

 

At the chamber event, you could see the growing recognition of these opportunities. Business and government is awakening, as reflected by the awards. House Speaker Mike Busch was acknowledged with the Chairman’s Award for promoting legislation to empower businesses. U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen was the finalist for the Legislator of the Year for his work to improve economic opportunities for minority businesses and for helping open a dialogue in the Cuba-U.S. relationship. The Chamber wisely acknowledged the need for a strong partnership with our legislators to ensure the business climate in Maryland is conducive to growth, and it celebrates those elected officials who advance a business-friendly Maryland.

 

Of course, without the support of our nonprofit neighbors our community cannot thrive. The  House of Ruth and CASA of Maryland were among the nominees — because these organizations support everyone and not just Latinos. The awarded finalist was The William & Lanaea Featherstone Foundation for its program to teach adults computer and technology skill —  in short, developing a qualified workforce.

 

The backbone of commerce is our businesses. The Small Business nominees included 121 Communications and David Rosario’s State Farm Agency office. The named finalist was SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier for its decadent cocoa manufacturing and retail gourmet chocolate business. I highly recommend these chocolates!

 

Nominees for Business of the Year included CR Dynamics and CertaPro Painters. The named finalist was Theresa Alfaro Daytner of Daytner Construction Group.

 

Theresa is an inspiring story of success, a woman in the male-dominated field of construction and a Latina mother of six. She is a visionary and a mentor to many.

 

Some unsung heroes were acknowledged, including the finalist, Catalina Rodriguez-Lima, the director of Immigrants and Multicultural Affairs for Baltimore City, for supporting the mayor’s efforts to attract growth to Baltimore City. She’s a true up-and-coming leader in our region.

 

I was joyous.

 

I was proud.

 

I was filled with potential for the future that, in fact, had already arrived.

 

As we all know, this future can be accelerated with strategic partnerships. Several corporations are wise to collaborate with Hispanic businesses, supporting programs and events to advance these businesses and foster economic growth in the region.  BGE was one of nominees, for its innovative Focus 25 program that cultivates businesses to become vendors for BGE.  The law firm of Ober Kaler was the finalist for its consistent and continued support of educational events to boost the business community in Maryland.

 

My twice-a-month column in The Daily Record launches today. I hope to use this as a platform for sharing news, stories and resources relevant to the business community. And, yes, I wrote “business” not “Hispanic businesses,” because the resources, best practices and highlights I will cover in this column will benefit African-Americans, women, Caucasians, millennials – everyone. It’s about opportunity, ambition and the desire to succeed. That, my amigos, crosses the boundaries of color and ethnicity.

 

Till next time.

 

Veronica Cool is founder of Cool & Associates LLC, a business management firm specializing in financial wellness and effective diverse segment marketing. Her column, Cool Stories & Tips, appears on the first and third Mondays of each month.

 

 

Source: http://thedailyrecord.com/2015/02/02/latino-boom-spells-opportunity/


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