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Greetings to all Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce members and supporters.

I am so grateful we are able to gather together today to celebrate such an incredible organization that has done so much for so many locally-owned small businesses. Of course, we all wanted to be here last year properly celebrating the 30th anniversary of our beloved Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. But, a global pandemic prevented that – while also presenting challenges unlike any we’ve seen before. Yes, it impacted our businesses. Tragically, it also impacted our families, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues. While we are always grateful for the opportunity to gather together, I am particularly grateful this year.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to express our sincere gratitude to each of you for weathering the challenges of the last year and coming here this evening to show your continued support for this important organization.

This year’s celebration – 30+1 – is a significant anniversary for the IHCC and provides all of us with an opportunity to look back, re-evaluate, embrace change and move forward. Looking ahead, we have identified three key areas to focus on to ensure we all continue to learn and grow.

Remain engaged. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the importance of finding ways to remain connected and engaged. We must work together to find and share solutions for our business community, so we can protect our economy.

Lead by example. We must continue to identify opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs to take that important first step, then support them in each step after that.

Invest. Keeping Latino businesses relevant by ensuring there is access to capital, incentives, and a quality workforce that ensures there is a strong foundation for continued growth and a future of our business community.

The IHCC has done each of these things, even during the pandemic, ensuring we play a leading role in connecting our members with those vitally important resources. Of course, our work is never done and there is still so much more to do.

There is no doubt that these last 18 months have been incredibly challenging on many fronts. But, I pledge to you today that the entire IHCC board and staff are doing all we can – and will continue doing all we can – to help our small businesses return to normal and continue the growth that is so important to our economy. And I am more confident now that it will happen. Why?

Because during the pandemic, Illinois residents led the nation in best practices that were ultimately adopted by national organizations, federal agencies, and companies beyond our borders.

The IHCC is proud to have worked with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot, and County Board President Preckwinkle in carrying out these initiatives. We thank each of them for their unmatched leadership. And I thank all of you for your leadership. Today, we are all stronger because of these experiences. We are stronger because we were forced to adapt, change our lives and change our approach to operating a business. This pandemic has proven – particularly in our community – that when Latinos lead together, Latinos prevail together. And for that – on behalf of the entire Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – I want to say Thank You!

Juan Gaytan, Jr.
Chairman, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
& Chairman, Monterrey Security

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