Supporting the Latino Entrepreneur
On Monday, Feb. 10 the Latino Leadership Conference of Montgomery County (Conferencia del Liderazgo Latino) was held at Montgomery Community Media. This all-day meeting was not only timely, but also inspiring, motivational and full of wisdom and insight from local Latino business, education and political leaders. The morning panel focused on the key questions that many of us reflect upon in our daily lives, and professional careers. There is no right or wrong answer, what we do know is that the Latino or Hispanic identity, is very personal, shaped by your own circumstances, environment, culture, religion and family upbringing.
The more I listed to the panelists, I realized that no matter how long you have been in the United States, many of us still have strong ties to our countries of origin and that has a great influence in our homes and in the way we go about being part of this society. I also realize that the Latino presence in the US is now so present everywhere in this County that you don’t need to step out of this country to experience the Latino culture!
I am so ever grateful and blessed to be able to share my “Latino/Hispanic identity” with my children. I can pass down to my bi-cultural and bi-racial children the richness of my Salvadoran culture and the Spanish language which I love, and also know that they are as much “American” as any other children living in the United States. They will be academically and professionally ready for the future and enjoy the benefits of many cultures.
The summit began with a morning panel discussions that provided us with the latest census data from Montgomery County and the demographic changes that have come with the growth of the Latino community. With growth have come many opportunities as well as challenges for the County. The Latino population needs to continue to find ways to respond to the ever growing needs through collaboration, sharing of best practices, information, and making further strides in economic and educational attainment. Another panel, Civic Engagement and the Latino Community, raised key questions for Latinos in the County. How can Latinos leverage the power found in the numbers to make the voice of the Latino community be heard in all sectors of society and institutions? While the Latino population is growing, there are still too few Latinos in key leadership positions in academia, business and county, state and Federal government. The investment has to be now in our children and youth, if they are to be the next generation of leaders in the county. The afternoon panel discussions took place around business and economic empowerment and education. The focus has to be on education. An educated Latino population will be in a better position to compete for top jobs, utilize minority business development programs (local counties, state and Federal government) for job creation and economic advancement and also contribute to the political landscape.
Montgomery College is working with Latino entrepreneurs to educate them about various opportunities in the county. This spring, the college will be offering classes in Spanish on topics such as how to start your business, to how to import and export products to how to do business with your local county. For more information visit Montgomery College website.
The Summit served as a first step to continuing this conversation. The issues are complex and require the collaboration and leadership of leaders—young and old— and the community as a whole.
I look forward to continuing the dialogue and participating at the next Summit.
Viewing and Presentations for Download are now available, please visit MyMCMedia.org.