That future includes a burgeoning relationship between Toledo and Mexico, one of the potential trade and investment partners to whom regional economic development leaders are seeking to establish long-term ties. Toledo’s mayor and Mexico’s Detroit-based consul general are the ones spearheading that relationship.
“What we’re doing differently is we’re focusing heavily on the partnership the city of Toledo and the Sophia Quintero Art and Cultural Center is developing with Puebla, Mexico,” said Ms. Delgado. “They’re working on a Sister Cities project and we’re trying to get the Hispanic business community excited about that and involved in that.”
The event’s keynote speaker will be Mexican Consul General Vicente Sánchez Ventura, who hails from Pueblo, Mexico. Business executives will accompany the consul general to the event, both for networking and to participate in a panel discussion.
“He’s also very involved in developing trade between Mexico and the Northwest Ohio region and the Southeast Michigan region,” Ms. Delgado explained. “Just being able to have him and bring some of his business associates to talk to our local businessmen is sort of a call to action to look at their businesses, see if they can expand and do international work with Mexico, and see what goods and services we can provide there.”
The Hispanic chamber of commerce is hoping the expo will open some doors for local business owners in the global marketplace. Dean Monske, president and CEO of the Regional Growth Partnership, also will participate in the panel discussion. He has accompanied Toledo’s mayor on three trips to China and Japan seeking international investment, as well as facilitated some of the early discussions with Mexican business executives on opportunities in the Toledo region.
Jeff Potter, president of Potter Industries, also will serve on the panel. He helped link Toledo leaders with the Mexican consulate, as his company does a lot of business south of the border.
The expo has built into the schedule plenty of networking opportunities for Latino business owners to meet and greet Mexican business executives. A Sister Cities relationship will mean a cultural and economic exchange program is established between Toledo and Puebla, Mexico.
“We’re hoping, first of all, to bring the effort to the attention of the business community at-large, and work on partnering different segments of the community with the Sophia Quintero Center at the arts and cultural level, but also at the business level,” Ms. Delgado said.
This year’s expo also will have an educational feel to it, with breakout sessions designed to help Latino entrepreneurs on the business side of the equation. One of those sessions will feature a presentation by the University of Toledo’s Center for Family and Privately-Held Business.
“They are working with some of their members to look at the possibility of expanding their businesses into the international arena and what it takes for a business to do that,” said Ms. Delgado. “They offer a great deal to small businesses and we thought giving them a chance to address the business community would be a great opportunity for everyone.”
Breakout sessions also will feature information about on-line marketing to expand the reach of small businesses, as well as a financial advisor who will explain the ins and outs of insurance and financial issues that small business owners face.
“That’s where we see businesses fail mostly,” said Ms. Delgado. “They’re great at their trade. They have the skills, but the business side experience is lacking. Here are the people you can connect with to help you take care of the business side of your business.”
Agenda: Expo VI will begin with registration and a continental breakfast at 8AM. Opening remarks will be given in the student union auditorium by UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago, and NOHCC President Gary Johnson. Two rounds of morning breakout sessions, the keynote address at 11:15AM followed by lunch from 12:30 to 1:30PM will follow, along with the afternoon panel discussion to round out the day, from 1:45 to 2:45PM.
Free Parking in area 10 at UT.
Complete information and the event schedule can be found on the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce website www.nohcc.com.
NOHCC Business Expo & Job Fair AGENDA (Rough Draft)