Hispanic Chamber’s new CEO focused on education, business development

Luis Rodriguez is perplexing to adjust.

As a newest CEO of a Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he is commencement to knowledge a differences here from his local San Antonio, where as a second-in-command he helped lead a Hispanic cover of commerce there to record membership (1,400) and inhabitant recognition.

Austin, he says, has a opposite business culture. The city’s challenges, he adds, will be unique.

On a new afternoon during his bureau tucked inside a Wells Fargo building in North Austin, he explained his goals for his new purpose — a initial being to entirely know a Capitol’s business scene.

“I like to digest first,” Rodriguez said. “Especially entrance in here not meaningful what we don’t know. What works in San Antonio is not indispensably going to work in Austin.”

Rodriguez began his pursuit weeks ago, replacing Mark Madrid, a three-year former CEO who left Austin to work during a investigate nonprofit during Stanford University. Rodriguez came to Austin, he said, since a city’s business enlightenment is “dynamic,” notwithstanding a cover being reduction determined than San Antonio’s.

The Alamo City’s Hispanic cover was founded in 1929, creation it a oldest one in a country. It’s inbred into a city’s immeasurable Hispanic population, who make adult some-more than 59 percent of Bexar County’s sum residents.

Austin’s chamber, by comparison, was founded 34 years ago. It has about 550 members in a city where Hispanics are some-more than 33 percent of Travis County’s population.

To grow membership, Rodriguez pronounced a concentration on tiny business is needed. He pronounced he wants to settle stronger relations with Hispanic owners of tiny business, who make adult about 80 percent of a chamber’s membership, as good as enhance a chamber’s general trade missions and Hispanics’ entrance to try collateral dollars.

“(Most) of a membership during minority cover of commerces is from tiny businesses; they’re really important,” Rodriguez said. “We have good movement here already, too,” he added, referencing Austin’s cover in 2015 being named a country’s best Hispanic cover of commerce by a U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Austin, a city famous for a cultivation of startups, is also some-more understanding of tiny business than San Antonio is, Rodriguez said, and a cover maintains a tighten attribute with a city’s other business organizations, including other minority chambers and a Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, a apparatus Rodriguez called “critical.”

Rodriguez, however, also faces obstacles as he tries to grow a chamber’s participation and brand.

The chamber, that usually has a handful of staff members, is tasked with advising members who work in Austin’s ultra-competitive business marketplace – one in that Hispanic business tenure appears next an ideal level.

The latest Census Bureau total uncover that there are about half as many minority business owners in Travis County — with many being Hispanic — than there are white business owners, notwithstanding minorities mixing to make adult about half a county’s population.

While this emanate is not singular to Austin, it’s a some-more severe energetic than San Antonio’s, where Census total uncover minorities possess a incomparable share of altogether businesses.

How can Rodriguez assistance residence a inconsistency in Austin?

“We need to teach a village on a peculiarity of Hispanic business here,” he said. “It’s creation certain we’re during a list (of discussions). It’s also carrying good mentorship programs and good resources to owners. We need to do a improved pursuit of educating Hispanic business owners on a same techniques that make others successful.”

Rodriguez has seen Hispanic tiny business owners who come from opposite backgrounds and cultures, for example, onslaught to entrance collateral income and not know how to scrupulously fill out vicious paperwork like a ask for proposal, that enables businesses to accept services or apparatus from other businesses and can be a vicious apparatus for competitiveness.

Education is an vicious subject to Rodriguez – one that he seeks to try in Austin.

He’s only commencement to learn about a city’s mercantile and secular demographic inconsistency that is geographically separate by Interstate 35, with a city’s Hispanic race being mostly strong in easterly Austin, an area where some of a city’s lowest behaving schools are located.

Establishing stronger partnership with those schools, Rodriguez said, competence be a many vicious charge his cover undertakes.

“If many Hispanics are only going to low-performing schools, they’re not going to connoisseur with a mindset that, ‘man, I’m going to open adult a emporium or go into entrepreneurship,” he said. “They’re going to connoisseur and think, “I need a job. we need to compensate rent; get by. And maybe that’s partly because we don’t have a thoughtfulness as distant as because don’t we have adequate Hispanic-owned businesses here.”

Rodriguez also pronounced he believes pursuit growth, quite within Austin’s record industry, starts with ancillary propagandize districts in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. He pronounced a cover needs to assistance surprise students that STEM jobs “are and will be a jobs of a destiny and will concede (students) to have a best event to be successful entreprenurs should they name one day to start a business of their own.”

Rodriguez has faced identical vigour to grow.

In San Antonio, a Hispanic chamber’s membership was about half of what it is now before Rodriguez arrived in 2010. Under his leadership, it became a initial Hispanic cover to accept a five-star accreditation from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Chambers are ranked from 3 to 5 stars formed on certain criteria such as series of contributions to a commnity.

Rodriguez pronounced he doesn’t see because a identical outcome can’t occur here.

“My plan,” he said, “is to work quickly.”

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