Now in its 22nd year, this three-day event brings together the Hispanic-owned business community and key figures from Capitol Hill to address concerns and work toward sustainability and growth.
Each year, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) holds a Legislative Summit, an important event focused on bringing change and opportunities to Hispanic-owned businesses. Scheduled events span across several days and include workshops and matchmaking sessions in addition to Hill Day. A tradition for 22 years, the 2012 event is being held March 21 – 23 in Washington, D.C. The primary purpose of the Legislative Summit is to address the wants and needs of Hispanic-owned businesses directly to elected officials and political appointees.
While the USHCC applauds various federal departments and agencies for meeting and exceeding their minority procurement goals, there is still room for growth and change in the Hispanic business community. Chamber members, business leaders and corporate executives work together to identify key issues facing America’s small business community and bring them to the Legislative Summit. Members of Capitol Hill also meet with Summit attendees to discuss these issues and to respond with their initiatives and actions.
The Legislative Summit enables the USHCC, affiliate chapters and Chamber members from across the country to come together as a unified voice. Just how powerful is this voice? Hispanic-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of minority enterprise and as such, play a major role in economic growth and recovery. Currently, over 3.5 million existing Hispanic-owned businesses generate $420 billion in sales annually. This figure will increase significantly in coming years as Hispanics start new business ventures at a rate three times greater than the general population.
Despite this growth, the Hispanic business community experiences disproportionately negative effects resulting from the financial crisis, placing extra emphasis on legislation and policies as a means of support and strength. Key issues facing the Hispanic business community that will be addressed during the Legislative Summit include entitlement reform, tax structure, deregulation, and federal funding. Here Hispanic entrepreneurs and government agencies work towards a common goal of an inclusive business model that can lead to economic growth and prosperity. Ultimately, this can ensure that small businesses across the country are sustainable and strong contributors to the economy.
Hill Day, the focal point of the Legislative Summit events, will be held on March 22, 2012. During this time, registered Hispanic Chamber affiliates have scheduled meetings with senior leadership and thought leaders on Capitol Hill. Discussions in these meetings will include information about their Chamber and their legislative priorities. A Luncheon on the Hill event is also scheduled, where members of Congress will discuss their work to promote the wants and needs of the Hispanic small business community.
At the Luncheon on the Hill, Members of Congress will address attendees about their efforts to promote the interests and needs of Hispanic small business owners. While the main focus of the Legislative Summit is Hill Day, there are several scheduled events concentrated on business networking for HBEs and corporate executives. This year will feature more training opportunities, workshops and roundtable discussions than ever before. An impressive list of past Legislative Summit speakers includes Speaker of the House John Boehner, MBDA director David Hinson, U.S. Senator Harry Reid, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, and U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu.
Federal matchmaking sessions will offer an opportunity to engage with procurement officials from a wide range of government agencies looking to fulfill contracts. Scheduled workshops include Manufacturing in the 21st Century, Improving Access to Capital, U.S. Leadership in the Global Food Economy, and Building America’s Communication Infrastructure, among others.
Even the scheduled dining and networking events will provide important interaction with some of Washington’s most influential shapers of policy. The Leadership for America’s Future Reception will bring together Legislative Summit attendees with important figures from Capitol Hill. Members of Congress and Administration officials will address those in attendance to spark a constructive
conversation over Hispanic business in America and provide insight on how to proceed for a more strengthened, vibrant, and prosperous economy.
The scheduled events will conclude with the Chairman’s Gala, which will honor the impact of the Hispanic business woman in America. Hispanic women now own 36% of all companies owned by minority women in the country, and the number of Latina owned businesses has increased 46% over a five year period to generate over $55 billion annually, according to the most recent U.S. Census.
This celebration of women entrepreneurs will include a ceremony for the recipient of the 2012 Chairman’s Award, Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of America. A Girl Scout alumna and
lifetime member, Ms. Chávez is a passionate spokesperson for issues important to girls and dedicated her career to public service. The famous Girl Scout Cookie program reaches more than 2.3 million Girl Scouts in every zip code in the country and teaches girls five essential business skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. Girl Scouts also has experienced a substantial increase in the number of Hispanic girl and adult members. Over the last decade, membership among Hispanic girls has increased by more than 50 percent.
Clearly, Ms. Chávez and her work with such an important organization deserves of the honor of receiving the prestigious Chairman’s Award. Through collaborative efforts like the Legislative Summit, the USHCC and its affiliates can bring about real change for Hispanic-owned businesses and the small business community at large. Stay tuned to the MBEConnect Blog and official event website for the USHCC Legislative Summit to get the latest updates and news as it happens, and to plan for future events.
Listen to a podcast recording of USHCC President Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the USHCC.