By: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read November 2019 — At first glance it may seem that there are more than enough chambers and business organizations in the Tampa Bay region to service the needs of the business community. The newest entry into the market, the Tampa Bay Latin Chamber of Commerce, would beg to differ. Created with the goal of promoting and aiding new and established Latino and Hispanic organizations in the region, the new chamber is looking to make a quick and significant impact within Tampa Bay. Chamber Vice President Ruby Wake spoke with Invest: about its mission, Tampa Bay as an emerging international hub of business activity and how the chamber will be addressing the greatest needs for this sector of businesses.
How did the Latin Chamber of Commerce come to fruition?
We noticed that there was a gap between the various Latino and Hispanic organizations. In this region, we have amazing organizations that cater to small businesses and startups by providing them with legal and accounting services, but there is no organization that caters to the professional services industry or the technology-driven industries. This was one of our main rationales for wanting to create this new chamber. We are in the process of developing a chamber that brings more than just monthly meetings and luncheons. We want to develop a chamber that is going to facilitate and assist in the development of new industries and companies within Tampa Bay. To accomplish this, we have created a board of directors that is very diverse, ranging from attorneys, to public administrators, to news anchors, with the purpose of figuring out what we can do for the Latino business community within Tampa Bay.
How is Tampa Bay establishing itself as a hub for international business?
Tampa Bay is going to continue to emerge as a hub for both national and international businesses due to our location and easy access to economic essentials. We have our ports and we are centrally located in Florida. We also have a booming economy, and we are slated to surpass New York City from a population density standpoint, which is amazing. Being in Florida also means that we are close to our Central and South American counterparts and having that access gives us the ability to introduce industries from different parts of the world.
What is the greatest need from the Latin business community to help grow their businesses?
We have noticed a lack of education from a financial standpoint. Unfortunately, most Latinos are not instilled with financial literacy at a young age. Even for those individuals with a higher education, it is not something that is taught in most universities, colleges or even in graduate schools. Programs are starting to emerge for high-school students, which is great, but what about adults who are already working full time in an industry or starting a business? These professionals have questions related to things like obtaining additional funding, creating a succession plan for their businesses or expanding on an already amazing business structure. How can they create an adequate business plan and then pitch that business plan to a potential loan officer or an investor, when they lack the education and resources? While, we contribute $300 billion to our nation’s economy, our businesses remain stagnant for the most part because of a lack of funding and a lack of education related to obtaining this funding. It is a vicious cycle that we are hoping to break.
How will the chamber assist in promoting Latino businesses and residents in Tampa Bay?
We hope to assist with the disparity by establishing two accelerator programs and a Latino leadership program. One accelerator will be a technology accelerator that will be hosted in conjunction with Tampa Bay Wave and the second accelerator will be a professional services accelerator. The Latino leadership program will assist Latinos who are interested in becoming involved in the political arena. We hope that by providing these additional resources, we will propel not only the Latin community within Tampa Bay, but Tampa Bay in general.
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