Good morning. Welcome to all of you.
After a hiatus of almost 15 months, it is a privilege to return to our Membership Meetings in person here at the Union League Club of Chicago.
As a Chamber of Commerce, one of our goals has always been to bring networking to a level of excellence, connecting our members, partners, and strategic allies to multiple business opportunities.
Neither Zoom nor phone calls could replace the importance of personal contact and these face-to-face meetings. That is why we did our best to resume these meetings as soon as possible, adhering to all health safety measures as recommended. Thank you all for being here.
We know how important it is for all of you to expand your network of contacts. I promise you that we will continue organizing more face-to-face meetings during the rest of the year.
I want to thank the IHCC Board of Directors for their support. Their leadership, generosity, and solidarity have been the pillars that have sustained our work during these 15 challenging months.
Each one of them contributes their time and talent to help us as a team to work more efficiently.
Thank you Juan, Guillermo, Arabel, Milena, Matt, Mayra, Art, Socorro, Kevin, Luis and Richard.
Thanks also to our corporate partners who contributed to our quick return, facilitating our ability to organize in-person events.
Special thanks to G&G Consultants, Office Depot, Northeastern Illinois University, and Arlington, Glass & Mirror Co for their sponsorship of this important event for us all.
We have recently lost Don Camerino Gonzalez, the pioneer of the Mexican business community in Chicago.
He founded the Los Comales restaurant chain and laid the cornerstone for La Villita to become the second most important commercial corridor in Illinois.
I, personally, have been very sorry for his loss. He was a loyal friend, always ready to give me advice, a straight talker, a contributor to all good works, and an optimist.
To his family and friends, I send a salute and a promise that we will continue working to honor his legacy.
Old generations of pioneers give way to new generations of entrepreneurs.
Today I want to introduce you to Jonathan Macedo, just 18 years old, the youngest restaurant owner in Chicago.
The restaurant is called Peke’s Pozole, in honor of his mom. Jonathan is a promising young member of our community. He has been recognized as an entrepreneur and a great student, receiving a scholarship to study Business Administration at DePaul University.
Please, give him a round of applause, exchange business cards with him, and integrate him into our business community. He is one of the leaders of tomorrow that we need to continue working on behalf of local Latino small businesses.
I am so happy to see you today that I want to continue sharing the good news.
We are very proud to say that the prestigious Aspen Institute noticed our work during the pandemic and chose IHCC to participate in their newest initiative to support hard-hit Latino-owned businesses.
The Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program (AILAS) launched the 12-month City Learning and Action Lab in five Latino-majority cities across the United States, including Chicago.
The initiative will coalesce around strategic priorities and implement solutions to boost and sustain the local Latino business economy.
The initiative is a hub and spoke model designed to support anchor organizations in each city to form an entrepreneurial ecosystem steering committee composed of 8 to 10 key cross-sector leaders. Committee members will coalesce around strategic priorities and implement solutions to boost and sustain the local Latino business economy.
The City Learning and Action Lab empowers and enhances local leaders’ efforts to attract capital investment and resources to Latino communities where they live and operate. What is so exciting is that local funders are embracing our vision of curating Latino-centric communities to learn, innovate together, and connect to national networks to catalyze change in their local communities.
We are excited to start working on this great project with The Aspen Institute. More news on this will come soon.
As you know, The Latinx Incubator is a first-of-its-kind partnership between IHCC and 1871.
The mission of the incubator is to create pathways for Latinx and underrepresented entrepreneurs to participate in and contribute to the tech and innovation economy.
We are proud to announce The Latinx Incubator’s Cohort 8 is the largest cohort we’ve had yet, with founders coming from cities across the United States and representing industries from HRTech to FinTech, AdTech to EdTech, and beyond!
Another great news is that we have renewed our participation in COOK COUNTY COVID-19 RECOVERY: SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, providing relief to small businesses to help:
- Whether the crisis and maintain operations and employees
- Pivot their business model to fit the current client
- Safely serve their customers
We will be able to continue extending bilingual technical assistance for the rest of the year to hundreds of small businesses that still need support to recover from the crisis caused by the pandemic.
The good news continues. The time has come when we will provide financial assistance to our small businesses with less than five employees. These micro-businesses represent more than 80% of our economy.
Elevate Together is a non-profit initiative designed to address systemic discrimination and historical racial disparities in business growth and profitability in Black and Hispanic communities.
Thanks to the Elevate Together initiative & the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) will award today six grants of $5,000 to Hispanic and Black small businesses in Chicago with five or fewer employees.
After a broad and rigorous selection process tailored to small businesses, the winners in Chicago selected by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are:
Edith De La Cruz, Antigua Inc
Atzimba Perez Atzimba Catering and Events
Roberto Carmona, Carmona Strategic Solutions
Stephanie Martinez, PARA.MAR Dance Theatre, LLC
Hector Perez, Rocket Productions, Inc, Hector Perez
Shall We Wine, Regine Rousseau
As I said at the beginning, we are working to increase networking opportunities.
On July 28, we will have our Roof Top Party at Moe’s Cantina in Wrigleyville.
Our great friend Sam Sanchez, as generous as always, is providing this excellent venue.
Don’t waste this opportunity! Let’s get out of the routine and make the most of this opportunity to reconnect in person!
Before I say goodbye, an important reminder.
September 30th is our Gala, and we are going to go all out. Save the date!
The “30+1” Gala will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the IHCC, which we did not celebrate last year because of the COVID pandemic. Also, in the event, we will reflect on the challenge that 2020 represented for the Latino business community in Chicago and the rest of Illinois state.
Get a babysitter, reserve your parking, go to dancing classes, have everything ready. It will be an amazing and unforgettable night, with lots of fun.