More than 80 Hispanic small business owners, chamber of commerce leaders and community development officials greeted Gov. Sam Brownback Wednesday in Wichita, as the Kansas governor applauded the growth of Hispanic businesses in the state at the Hispanic Business Forum.
“Kansas wants to encourage the Hispanic business community to grow in our state,” said Brownback. “We’ve eliminated income taxes for small businesses and implemented educational initiatives to support our skilled workforce. As we continue to build a pro-growth business environment, it is important that we collaborate with Kansas Hispanic businesses to support their hard work, innovation and growth.”
The Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission (KHLAAC), the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, Butler Community College and the Kansas Department of Commerce hosted the forum. It served as an open discussion with the Hispanic business community about economic development in Kansas, resources available to Hispanic businesses in the state and marketing a business in Kansas.
“The number of Hispanic-owned businesses has doubled during the last decade,” said Rob Flores, president of Puente Marketing. “According to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce the projected combined annual revenue of the 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses is more than $468 billion. With such rapidly growing numbers, these businesses will play an increasingly critical role in driving economic growth in Kansas and around the country.”
The forum began with a panel discussion of state resources led by officials from Commerce, Network Kansas and the Kansas Department of Transportation. Flores followed with a general session presentation titled “Showcasing Your Business.”
A second panel discussion led by Gov. Brownback brought together Hispanic business and economic development leaders to discuss empowering Hispanic small businesses. Panelists included Patricia Ramirez-Ceberg, president of Earles Engineering and Inspection Inc., Wichita; Diana Ramirez, owner of Express Employment Professionals and Specialized Recruiting Group, Topeka; Michael Barrera, director of National Coalitions and Entrepreneurship at The Libre Initiative, Mission, Texas; Derrick Bauer, president and CEO of Zumit Corporation, Olathe; and Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George.
“The Hispanic Business Forum was a tremendous opportunity to connect with many leaders of Hispanic businesses in Kansas and exchange ideas,” George said. “Through this type of teamwork, we can ensure that Kansas is a great place for Hispanic businesses to achieve success.”