U.S. Hispanic Chamber caps off Miami training with networking event

07/09/2014 5:57 PM

07/10/2014 3:33 PM

Add this to your calenders: From now on, July 8 will be known as USHCC Foundation Day in Miami thanks to a proclamation from the state of Florida to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation at the chamber’s networking event Tuesday night.

The event was the culmination of a two-day Chamber Training Institute at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay that attracted members of more than 50 chambers across the country, covering topics including board governance, business consulting, advocacy, branding and media development.

The USHCC Foundation, the philanthropic and educational arm of the USHCC, which supports Hispanic business growth and entrepreneurship, holds six training events a year in different cities around the U.S. This week’s event was the first time the chamber had returned to Miami since its annual convention in 2011.

Since then, there has been a push to grow tech entrepreneurship in Miami, adding to the $468 billion that Hispanic businesses contribute to the American economy, according to chamber president and CEO Javier Palomarez. “There are few places in the world, not just in the country, that can illustrate the power of that growth and the power of that contribution better than Miami,” he said.

The networking event, which featured a speech by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, strived to cement connections among Miami business leaders.

“A lot of us are first- or second-generation, so we don’t have the networks or the heritage that Caucasians might have,” said USHCC spokesman Ammar Campa-Najjar. “We didn’t have the friends or the support group, and the USHCC kind of fills that void and gives them that support.”

More importantly, said Jose Mas, president and CEO of Miami-based engineering giant Mastec, the event illustrates the importance of Hispanic businesses in the future of the American economy’s landscape.

“The advocacy is important because we are such a growing part of the population,” Mas said. “Every business that’s in this country needs to be selling services to Hispanics, and that needs to be a big part of their plans going forward or they are going to miss out.”

At the event, Mas announced he would join the USHCC’s board of directors and act as the main Hispanic business sponsor in Salt Lake City at the national convention in September.

Palomarez, alternating between English and Spanish as he addressed the crowd of about 100 overlooking Biscayne Bay, said the chamber is strongly considering Miami for its 2016 national convention.

“We need to redefine the narrative,” Palomarez said. “We aren’t the job-takers, we are the job-makers.”

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