Celebrating 50 Years Sacramento Hispanic Chamber - Page 11

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Golden Anniversary

Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 50 Years of Service by Jennifer von Geldern

The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of

Commerce has served the region ’ s
Hispanic community for nearly 50 years with a mission of promoting and developing business growth for members and providing access to the Hispanic market . Established in 1972 as the Mexican American Chamber of Commerce , the SACHCC offers networking , education , resources , scholarships and advocacy for a membership that is now more than 550 strong . Member businesses represent a diverse collection of industries , including retail , restaurant hospitality , marketing , media , construction , plumbing , law , professional services and many more . Almost three quarters are small businesses with 20 or fewer employees and many are family-owned businesses .
“ Many members are Latino- and Latina-owned businesses that appreciate bicultural and bilingual resources ,” says Cathy Rodriguez Aguirre , SACHCC ’ s president and CEO . “ However , speaking Spanish isn ’ t a requirement . Members may speak Spanish , English , both or multiple languages . Membership also spans from recent immigrants and first-generation businesses to several generations in business . All share inspiring entrepreneurial spirit and resiliency .”
Fulfilling a Need
Prior to the SACHCC , there was no cohesive entity to help Hispanic entrepreneurs launch businesses or for established business owners to network with each other in the Sacramento region , which is now about 30 percent Latino . To remedy that , a handful of businesspeople came together in 1972 to found the Mexican American Chamber of Commerce . ( The group changed its name in 1985 to the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to recognize members from other parts of Latin America .) Among those founders were Frank and Eva Garcia , local realtors with vision .
“ The Mexican American community was growing fast and we thought it would be good to organize and do business with each other ,” says Eva Garcia , a realtor for 55 years and owner of Garcia Realty . “ It was a natural thing to establish the chamber . As a realtor , the idea of having a roster with
Mexican American business names was helpful to me and clients .”
The SACHCC has grown in size , scope and influence over the decades thanks to its warm reception not only within the Hispanic community , but also within the wider business world . “ We helped represent the Hispanic community on a larger stage and give it a voice ,” says Garcia . She and her husband went on to help found the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce , now the largest Hispanic business organization in the country .
Beyond representation , the SACHCC ’ s founders had another goal — assisting Hispanic entrepreneurs to properly and legally establish businesses . The late Luis J . Leyva , one of the chamber ’ s founders and twice a past president , acted as a mentor to many aspiring small business owners . For nearly 40 years , Leyva operated Luis ’ s Mexican Food in Sacramento , for which he earned the SACHCC ’ s Salud Award for Small Business of the Year in 1986 . ( Twenty-eight years later in 2014 , his daughter Silvia Leyva earned the same award for her ad agency ,
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