The Future Is Now in Salt Lake

Salt Lake City will host the 2014 United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s National Conference. Javier Palomarez explains why Utah won the chamber’s election this year.

There are few organizations as powerful and far-reaching as the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). Representing more than 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute more than $465 billion to the American economy each year, the USHCC has a network of more than 200 local Hispanic chambers and business associations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Its national convention is the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders in America.

In the past, the convention has been held in sprawling cities known for their strong Hispanic presence, including Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, and Chicago. This September, the 35th Annual National Convention will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. If that location comes as a surprise, let USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez change your perception.

According to Palomarez, Hispanic-owned businesses are growing boundlessly faster in Utah with Latinos currently accounting for almost 50 percent of the state’s population and 80 percent of its overall growth in the last decade. “In Salt Lake City, there’s a unique opportunity to point out what the future looks like,” Palomarez says. “Hispanic-owned businesses are now part of the fabric of the American business landscape. In the state of Utah, Hispanics are paying taxes, creating jobs, and greatly contributing to the local economy. Although Salt Lake City may not yet be nationally associated with having a Hispanic presence, the USHCC recognizes the value Hispanic-owned businesses are bringing to the area and our convention will reflect that.”

The fact that the state has been so inviting, Palomarez says, speaks to “the notion of true American leadership.” Its the sort of leadership that is expemplified by state governor, Gary Herbert, who does not politicize the shifting demographics of Utah, but rather takes a rational, fact-based approach to leveraging the growing Hispanic population to boost the state’s economy. Palomarez asserts that Utah is a state that understands Hispanic businesses are American businesses.

“It’s a state that is committed to empowering Hispanics to achieve the American Dream,” he says, which means it’s also a state in which the USHCC is interested in expending its presence.

More than 218 major American corporations work in partnership with the USHCC, forming mutually beneficial relationships with members of the organization. The convention draws in huge sponsors including Visa, American Airlines, and Verizon among others, so it’s a terrific opportunity for Salt Lake City as well.

One of the convention’s biggest draws is the Business Match-Making opportunity, which enables Hispanic enterprises to connect with Fortune 500 companies and federal government agencies to facilitate partnerships.

“The National Convention provides attendees with many opportunities, but the match-making portion is something special,” Palomarez says. “Partnering with Hispanic-owned firms is critical to a corporation’s success. It’s a way of seeking out loyalty from Hispanic consumers while harvesting the skills and talents of Hispanic entrepreneurs. This is what the future looks like.”