Last month’s Latin Chamber luncheon attracted a who’s who in Southern Nevada.
Joining hundreds of businesspeople were the head of the convention authority, the CEO of an international airline, the Clark County sheriff, and the school superintendent.
The turnout led Chamber President Peter Guzman to declare that Nevada's Hispanics were having a moment and getting more credit for their contributions to the economy and the community.
“It is a fact that Hispanic businesses are growing twice as fast as non-Hispanic businesses," Guzman told KNPR's State of Nevada, "We’re experiencing an over 40 percent increase in Hispanic-owned firms. Hispanics, Latinos have an entrepreneurial spirit that can’t be slowed down anymore. Because opportunities now are so prevalent, they really are, they’re going to grab pieces of that.”
Erick Aviles is part of the moment. She runs a business that works to connect companies and other businesses to the Hispanic community.
“I’m certainly feeling it and seeing it. And I’m a product of it,” she said.
Aviles started her business three years ago. With the help of the Latin Chamber, she was able to get the resources to grow the company.
She said more and more companies are trying to connect with and engage the Latino community in Southern Nevada. She pointed to the partnership between the Jarritos brand of soft drinks and the Las Vegas Lights FC.
"They definitely see that potential here in the market and that's what we're trying to activate through different things out in the community, out in the stadium," she said.
In Southern Nevada, the Hispanic population makes up about a third of the total population. In Northern Nevada, the population is growing, but not quite at that mark yet.
But Oscar Delgado, who is a city councilman and professor at University of Nevada, Reno, sees Hispanic political clout increasing with the population.
“We’re starting to now become that second-generation voting bloc that’s really making its headway, especially here in Northern Nevada,” he said.
Guzman agrees that the political power the Latino community is growing. He believes fear is still stopping some members of the community from participating.
“I hope Latinos are finally going to rise up and say, ‘enough is enough’ and come together to form that giant voting coalition. And that’s where the real power is,” he said.
Delgado believes it is vital for Hispanics to get involved in the political process.
"And the more you’ve seen in terms of opportunities for families and for people that are engaged and are involved the more you see that they are that much more successful and so much more to choose from in terms of opportunities for not only themselves but their families,” he said.
As presidential candidates visit Las Vegas, more and more of them know that talking and connecting with the Hispanic community is vital. Guzman said several Democratic hopefuls have already contacted his organization.
Peter Guzman, president, Latin Chamber of Commerce; Oscar Delgado, councilman, City of Reno; Ericka Aviles, Las Vegas businesswoman
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