How are you supporting the Latino community in Evansville?
The Latino Chamber Alliance is a division of the Southwest Indiana Chamber. I am a co-chairman, and our mission there is to try to include Latino business owners and Latinos into the workforce and workplace. Right now, we’re working on some initiatives to help Latinos obtain certification as minority business owners. We’re helping them get certification to be able to cook food, sell food at different events. And what we look to do is just to increase the participation of Latino businesses and non-Latino businesses, and trying to blend both groups together. Also, helping Latinos that have a vision to go into business. Giving them the right resources, we can help them get involved in business. We can help them get connected to the right people; we can explain the basics of business — how to write a business plan, how to obtain a loan, how to obtain a customer, how to bid on projects. These are all things we’re trying to do, and as we progress — because we’re very new, it’s in its infancy — as we progress, we’re going to add so many more things to our list of services we can provide to potential business owners and existing business owners in the Latino community.
I was introduced to two individuals who were long-time members of HOLA, and they kind of told me what was going on with their mission statement and explained what their wants and needs were. It interested me, because being a third generation Mexican-American, I felt that there were a lot of needs to be helped in this community. There is a growing population of Latinos here in Southwest Indiana. So, it kind of hooked me right there. I thought, hey, can get in, I can use my resources to help other people. The last two years that I’ve been involved, we’ve worked on a scholarship with Ivy Tech and have other things in the works. When I heard there was an opportunity for me to come in and help my people, of course I was all over it.
What do you want people to understand about immigrants and immigration in the last 5-10 years?