Hispanic chamber eyes increase in business outreach, support for future generationsdfwnewsa | December 7, 2023 | 1 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News
Anette Landeros, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, speaks at its state of the chamber event Dec. 7 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth. (Seth Bodine | Fort Worth Report)
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As the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 50th anniversary at a state of the chamber event, president and CEO Anette Landeros wanted to let the sold-out event’s crowd know one thing:“We’re not stopping now,” she said.Landeros spoke about the achievements of the chamber during the year and its goals for next year.The chamber increased its membership from 708 last year to 840 in 2023. Nearly 28% of the chamber’s members represent nonprofits, which ranks just behind construction as the largest industry in its rolls. The Hispanic chamber met its three goals for the year: growing membership, highlighting diverse business leaders and commercial redevelopment, she said.
In her remarks, she highlighted the chamber’s events, a publication the chamber created featuring 50 existing and emerging Latino leaders, a business pitch competition, launching a small business program for Spanish-speaking business owners and participation in the Main Street America program. She noted that the chamber’s 50th anniversary gala had 1,200 in attendance. “The gala represented a unity propelling us forward and underscores the enduring strength of our chamber,” Landeros said. “It was a commitment of celebration, highlighting the influence that we, our chamber, have had on our city.”
Next year, she said the chamber will focus on identifying barriers for Hispanic-owned businesses and implementing solutions, kicking off an office renovation fundraising campaign and expanding outreach and advocacy work.
The chamber is partnering with the National League of Cities and a yet-to-be named university to study the barriers facing Hispanic-owned businesses and do outreach and advocacy work. The chamber also hired Cristian ArguetaSoto, former community engagement journalist at Fort Worth Report, as a minority business specialist.The chamber’s work with the Main Street America program will continue to ramp up next year, and the community will start to see changes, she said. The chamber faced criticism from the community about the redevelopment of the area and had to develop trust during the first year of the program.“We had to face and acknowledge that there’s a lot of fear in our community, and that they were going to hold us accountable,” she said. “But we asked them to do that and said ‘hold us accountable,’ or walk with us as we try to do this, because our heart is in the right place.”
Going into the next year of the program, Landeros said buildings have been purchased, and the chamber is working with community members in the Historic Northside about what they would like to see.
Ish Arebalos, chairman of the board at Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber, said many minority-owned businesses don’t know what they need to get up and running. The Hispanic chamber plays an important role to help, he said.
“Our chamber’s doing so many great things in the community,” Arebalos said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. But I think we got the right leader and the right personnel to get it done.”
Landeros is thinking about 50 years from now, and how involvement at the chamber will impact future generations.
“What’s important is that this time, 50 years from now, the next generation is going to be making decisions and growing from the point of the work that we’re doing today,” Landeros said. “So that’s what’s really important about all of you, because now you’re part of this journey, now you’re part of this history.”
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @sbodine120.
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