Worcester Chamber Kicks off Minority-Owned Business Roundtable
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced a new initiative to recruit minority-owned business to the 2,300 member organization. The initiative kicks off this week with a program that offers an “Introductory Membership” to businesses categorized as minority-owned and who have never been a Chamber member. The Chamber has contracted with minority business owner and veteran, Robert Diaz, who will work to recruit Latino-owned businesses.
With a diverse population, Central Massachusetts is rich with a variety of cultures celebrating many customs, and interests. Of the roughly 806,000 people residing in Worcester County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20% are classified as a minority. About half of that group, or roughly 10% of the population, are of Hispanic or Latino origin, 5% identify themselves as black or African-American, and slightly more than 4% are Asian. According to a 2007 census report, 2.8% of Worcester area businesses are Latino-owned, 2.4% are African American, and 3.8% are Asian-owned.
Membership in the Chamber offers many benefits including public policy advocacy, assistance with municipal issues including permitting, opportunities for networking and introductions that increase a business’ customer base. Mr. Diaz, who is bilingual, has the will work to convey the benefits of membership to the minority business community and to engage them in the business community as a whole. His goal will also be to understand any unique issues that minority-owned businesses might encounter and that the Chamber could be of assistance with.
President and CEO of the Chamber, Tim Murray, is excited to get the program off the ground. “The Chamber is an inclusive organization working toward increased prosperity for all businesses. We are confident that the Chamber can be the voice for minority-owned businesses and that, just as we do for various sectors of the economy, we can begin to build bridges between various minority groups to unify our efforts.” Today's launch, and our recent meetings with the Massachusetts Albanian Chamber of Commerce, are just the beginning of our efforts in reaching out to the minority and new immigrant business community. Plans include the establishment of a minority-owned business roundtable in the fall that will include representation from a broad range of minority-owned businesses.
Rob Diaz plans on starting to visit minority-owned business in the next couple of days to tout the benefits of membership. “As a member of the Chamber, I have met a large number of business professionals that I might not have otherwise met. I'm looking forward to getting out there and telling that story.” Armed with Chamber materials that have been translated into Spanish, Rob says, “I think meeting small business owners at their place of work is a smart idea. Inviting them to join will provide an opportunity to begin engaging them right away and it will send the message that we value their input, their time, and their culture.
The Worcester Regional Chamber offers more than 75 programs and events annually that range from small groups to day-long events with thousand in attendance. Topics are a broad range of business-related issues and include networking and educational opportunities. According to Murray, “The Chamber is the preeminent organization for expanding your professional network and growing your business. We plan to keep growing as well. The Chamber brings people together with opportunities and the larger the audience, the better it is for economic development in the region.”
For more information please the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce Website.
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