At least 6,000 Hispanic professionals will be heading to the Valley this fall for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 24th annual National Convention and Business Expo.
The event will be Oct. 1-4 at Phoenix Civic Plaza. This is the first time Phoenix has ever hosted this event, which could bring President Bush to the Valley. The chamber has invited him to speak at the Hispanic businesswomen's luncheon.
Last year, the Valley began attracting major Hispanic conventions. Last year, it hosted the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.
Next year, the Valley will host the National Council of La Raza.
Fortune 500 chief executives will be participating in the U.S. Hispanic Chamber convention, while more than 200 Fortune 500 corporations will have exhibits at the expo, said George Herrera, the chamber's president and CEO.
“Phoenix is a city that presents enormous opportunities for the Hispanic community,” he said. “Phoenix provides us an opportunity to talk about the diversity and the transformation of the Hispanic community and the role that we need to play in the political process. It provides a tremendous venue for us to showcase prominent Hispanic businesses in this great city to the nation.”
The economic impact of the convention is expected to be about $5 million, he said. In addition to attracting business owners and professionals from the East Valley, the convention should bring additional tourism dollars to this region because many participants will use the opportunity to vacation and travel throughout the Valley and Arizona, he said.
“We're trying to spread out the economic impact over the whole region,” Herrera said. “The conference will be held here in the city of Phoenix, but being a conference that begins on Wednesday and ends on Sunday is going to afford people an opportunity to possibly stay and vacation, and be able to enjoy all the other sites of the great state of Arizona.”
The theme of this year's convention is “Maximizing Performance for Economic Success.” It will provide chamber members and event participants a forum for networking, and include sessions aimed at fostering the growth and development of the Hispanic entrepreneur.
“We encourage everybody to attend,” said Frank Rivera, chairman of the board of directors of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This is not just about members. It's about anyone who wants to attend.”
Participants will also be able to connect with corporate and government buyers, examine franchising opportunities, interview with corporate and government recruiters, and learn from business experts about current economic business trends.
“This will afford local business owners an opportunity to meet with key decision-makers in corporate America,” Herrera said. “They'll be able to enjoy a whole gamut of management and technical services that are available . . . and network with 6,000 business owners from throughout the country.”
The convention will include programs geared to foster interest in young entrepreneurship and provide assistance to young entrepreneurs, Rivera said.
“It will give these young people an opportunity to see these successful businesses and meet the owners, talk to them about how they got into the business and what it takes to stay in business,” he said. “All of those kinds of things are very important if you want to get into your own business.”
The convention will highlight the area Hispanic business community and illustrate its growth, Rivera said.