The Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber continued to grow its voice and influence in 2022. Hispanic-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing emerging markets. The Hispanic Chamber is loud and proud (and a wise business investment) as the transformation of our business market, our leadership and population continues! We are on the precipice of a new generation of leaders as 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day while six in 10 Latinos are millennials or younger: The most abundant generations in history. Latino leadership and values can revitalize the “American Dream.” The Latino Destino is here. In the words of the iconic Latina leader, Juana Bordas, “The emergence of a de colores America is a defining characteristic of the 21st century. Because of Latinos’ inherent diversity, Latino Destino is to build this multicultural society. As people-centered, we are a culture that values generosity, cooperation, community and taking care of one another. Latinos can revitalize the American Dream. We can create a humanistic society that cares for all its people. Latinos celebrate de colores – the incredible beauty of life’s diversity.”
Over the past year, the Hispanic Chamber witnessed unprecedented recognition and success. Its executive leadership was recognized as the 2022 Small Business Champion of the Year, El Cinco de Mayo Inc. Outstanding Community Leadership Award recipient and 2022 DEI Transformational Leader Award by the Colorado Springs Business Journal. These singular accomplishments were highlighted by the United States Hispanic Chamber’s 2022 “Small Chamber of the Year” Award. The USHCC Selection Committee criteria included creating innovative programs, community service, commitment to helping small businesses grow, and cultural awareness within our chamber.
We continued our momentum into 2023 by collaborating with The League of United Latin American Citizens, making a special LULAC Presidential Medal presentation at our December Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber Holiday Luncheon. LULAC is the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization whose mission is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.
Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, stated, “Rich Fierro is America’s hero. The Army combat veteran bolted into action Saturday night, November 19 to take down the mass shooter who opened fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.” He added, “LULAC is awarding this ex-combat soldier who did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan the LULAC Presidential Medal. This recognition is the highest honor bestowed by the league in our 93-year history. Only a select group of men and women are worthy of this honor, and Rich is a hero whose actions saved lives, even if he might lose his own.”
Last year, Latinos spent more than $12.3 billion in Colorado. Latino-owned small businesses were an important factor in the state’s economic recovery. However, Latinos are almost nonexistent on the boards of Colorado-based corporate boards, nonprofit boards, C-suite executive roles or trade associations.
In 2023, to ensure that Latinos serve in greater leadership roles, through the Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber Education Foundation, the Adelante Leadership Institute has been established. The ALI will train, support, and elevate professional and executive Latinos, and underserved and underrepresented multicultural leaders, to positions of influence. The ALI will identify and encourage emerging Latino leaders to embrace community involvement, civic engagement, and service on boards and commissions. The ALI will provide a culturally focused platform for Latino leaders to network, share ideas, problem solve and form collaborative relationships.
We will aspire to deliver Latino thought leaders with ethical behavior, respectful and inclusive relationships, selfless service, and an innate desire to make a difference in the Pikes Peak region. The ALI’s 10-month fellowship program will prepare Colorado Springs Latino and minority leaders for elevated roles in the public and private sector.
We believe in “Strength in Numbers” and in 2023 we will collaborate with business organizations to host morning mixers and business after hours. Here are a few save the dates:
On March 7, we will co-host with the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado, “Buzz with the B’s” and then on March 30, we will host the Chambers of Colorado Springs Business After Hours at 3E’s Comedy Club and highlight the evening with our very own Hispanic Chamber business member and comedian, Kimberly Gold.
And we will continue a community favorite, La Vida 2023!, on Aug. 26, and the “Hispanic Heritage Month” Business Luncheon on Oct. 3. We are also in the planning stages of hosting a Dia de los Muertos event on Nov. 2.
Our 2023 outlook is focused on continuing to produce high-caliber programming and events with an increased emphasis on our Hispanic business market through our Junto Somos Mas Fuerte workshops and continued advocacy and growth as an influenced and thought leader for Hispanic and multicultural businesses and community.
Joe Aldaz is president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.