Because I don’t really know that much about our local Hispanic business community, I jumped at the chance to attend a luncheon July 24 to meet Juancarlos Judd. In addition to his role as Zions Bank’s senior vice president diverse markets director, Judd is chair of the Utah Hispanic Chamber. I was curious to see what I would find out at the “networking lunch and introduction to a partnership opportunity.”
Turns out, quite a bit.
Judd and a few other chamber reps from Salt Lake City came to Boise to spread the word about the 2014 United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce convention. This year, the event that more than 7,000 will attend – including top Hispanic business leaders across the nation – takes place Sept. 21 – 23 in Salt Lake. It is the first time the event will be held there, and, Judd said, a coup for the local Hispanic chamber.
Judd said the Hispanic Chamber pitched Salt Lake hard and heavy to the national selection committee. “We rolled out the red carpet.” And when it was announced they had won over Las Vegas and San Antonio, “It was a great moment for us,” he said.
Judd and friends made the pitch again – this time to Idaho Hispanic leaders and business owners. They said the benefits of attending the national convention include sometimes once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunities as well as educational ones. This year, for example, workshops will focus on how to power your business with innovative technology solutions, how to use Google, including Google tools, for your business, and how to use social media to your advantage.
In addition, Judd said there are sponsorship opportunities available to local businesses in Idaho. Sponsorships range from $5,000 to $250,000. Convention registration for chamber members is $599 for the two-day package or you can opt to attend one segment or several at prices ranging from $95 to $125 each.
The benefits are worth it, said Ivan Castillo, a real estate consultant at The Castle Group and president of the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. ”It’s a huge networking opportunity,” Castillo said. “It’s like speed dating on steroids.” But convincing the local Hispanic small business owners of that can be a challenge, he said. “It’s not an expense – it is an investment.”
Judd told the story of one Utah Hispanic small business owner who had been ready to throw in the towel. Julieta Hernandez, founder of Matrix Spa & Massage, went to the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to ask for advice. On their recommendation, she attended a training course on making your company environmentally friendly. “She went through the course. She went all green. She got the recognition as the first green spa in the area,” Judd said. Then, in 2013 the chamber recommended her to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program. “It really made an impact. The benefits (the HCC) provides will save the Matrixes of the world.”
For more information, contact the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at http://www.idahohcc.org/
Or go to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce convention website at: http://ushccconvention.com/
Jeanne Huff is special sections editor at the Idaho Business Review.