“It is important to have an outside agency for networking,” said Yuri Cunza, president and chief executive officer of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Before the Murfreesboro chapter started meeting about a month ago there was no central organization for the growing community of Hispanic-owned businesses.
Rutherford County has at least 30 Hispanic-run restaurants alone and hundreds more Hispanic-owned businesses, said Cameron Parrish, executive director of the Murfreesboro chapter. He also serves as membership director of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will provide a support system for the special needs of Hispanic-owned businesses and provide resources for this population.
The chamber is “designed to boost local economic sustainability and facilitate greater integration of Hispanic businesses into the greater community in areas where existing structures are ill-equipped to serve the needs of these businesses,” Parrish said.
An open invitation is currently being extended to all organizations that have an interest in the growing Hispanic community in Middle Tennessee to join or learn more about the organization.
Currently meetings of the local chapter are held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Espana at 211 W. Main St., just off the Public Square.
“It seems they are very excited to be invited to the table,” Cunza said of the reaction so far to the creation of a Murfreesboro chapter of the Chamber of Commerce. “We need to make sure it is powerful enough that the enthusiasm doesn’t fade away.”
Exclusive benefits to membership include: local advocacy, first-class social and cultural events, educational opportunities, collective member discount programs, advertising opportunities and access to professional expertise and guidance for start-ups and growth.
Cunza added that the chamber encourages best practices for Hispanic businesses, helps businesses register with the Better Business Bureau and register as a minority-owned business.
Training and educational opportunities will be available to members as well as networking opportunities.
A team from the chamber also will work with the local government on issues facing the Hispanic community, Cunza said.
Gilberto “Beto” Mendoza, owner of Espana, welcomes the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to Murfreesboro.
Espana has been open for more than three months as a dance club. Mendoza hopes to open a restaurant serving Latin cuisine from around the world this week.
“It costs a lot to advertise,” he said. “This is how you get to know people by going to events.”
Mendoza said networking events provided by the Murfreesboro chapter allows Hispanic business owners to meet each other and develop personal contacts.
Carolina Rivas, owner of Yellow Taxi Plus in Murfreesboro and Checker Cab in Nashville, said there are many benefits to being involved with the chamber.
She said it allows businesses to support each other and use each other’s services, and the chamber is there when you have a problem with your business.
“They make the link for you that will help your business,” Rivas said.
The chamber provides resources on how to make it in a slow economy, she added.
“We are not by ourselves. We have a family in the chamber. It is like a family.
Visit www.nashvillehispanicchamber.com for more information about the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. To reach Membership Director Cameron Parrish send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erin Edgemon can be reached at email@example.com.