Talking Shop with Chicago’s Latino Business Community

Pedro Cevallos-Candau, PhD
Executive Vice President
Primera Engineers, Ltd.
primerachicago.com

What makes Chicago a great place for  a Hispanic business like yours?
Chicago is a world-class city with world-class opportunities. Chicago is one of the most innovative cities in the nation, and the city’s dedication to sustainable building and energy efficiency has helped Primera grow consistently for nearly 25 years.

What is the best place to take a client that you want to impress?
My office. That way they can meet the people that will work on their projects. I am very proud of my staff. I think the days of taking clients to fancy places are gone. People feel better in a more relaxed environment.

How do you stay connected to other professionals in your area?
I am active in many professional organizations. I am currently president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois, an organization of 210 engineering companies with over 10,500 engineers. I am also a board member of the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

Favorite power-lunch spot in the city:
The Union League Club of Chicago.

 

Arabel Alva Rosales
President and CEO
AAR & Associates, Ltd.
aar-alvarosales.com

What makes Chicago a great place for a Hispanic business like yours?
I am from Chicago, and have an incredible network, support [base], and family here. As a business owner, my brand name and reputation are critical. All that I mentioned help to maintain my brand name strong.

What is the best place to take a client that you want to impress?
I like taking clients to places where they can have good food, a relaxing atmosphere, and that is in an area that allows them to enjoy the city’s social life even further. If they so desire: Fleming’s Prime Steak & Wine Bar, Hubbard Inn, and lately, the Paris Club.

Is your business local or national/international?
AAR & Assocs., Ltd., is an IT firm that I would consider regional, but we are starting to branch out and become national … I was born and raised here, so it was a natural place to start my business. It is [also] a great place for networking due to the wonderful, cultural experience that includes great restaurants, museums, and a very active business community.

Describe Chicago’s business climate in three words:
Globally minded, close-knit, competitive.

 

Ruben Garcia
CEO
Innovative Exams, LLC
examslocal.com

What makes Chicago a great place for a Hispanic business like yours?
Chicago has a thriving Hispanic business community with a support and networking structure that allows Hispanic businesses to connect with potential clients. Organizations like the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce make it possible for small start-ups like [mine] to find clients and make the right connections.

What neighborhood would you recommend to a new business looking for a place to set up shop?
The Loop is a good place to be just because you’re centrally located in the city and you have access to mass transit.

What is the best place to take a client that you want to impress?
I’ve had opportunities to invite clients to some of the Illinois Hispanic [Chamber’s] membership meetings. It’s a pretty good place to take a client because you always have interesting politicians or other interesting people that are speaking there.

Favorite power-lunch spot in the city:
The Rosebud.