Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando President
According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 450,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the state of Florida, making up 22.4 percent of the state’s businesses. As Hispanic businesses flourish in the region, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) is a major voice and engine of growth. Through its collaborative leadership and support, it helps promote the economic development of this vital business community. The Chamber’s president, Diana Bolivar, has over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit, legal, medical and construction industries. Her diverse portfolio and experience has been driven by the inspiration that comes from entrepreneurial businesses.
THE ROAD TO LEADERSHIP
Before joining the HCCMO, I worked as a business development manager for Workforce Central Florida. During my time there, I provided professional business consulting to local employers on how to increase their bottom line by developing and understanding their workforce needs. Before joining Workforce Central Florida, I began my entrepreneurial journey by starting and managing my own company, Florida Quality Inspections, Inc.
I am a genuine believer of the power of service to others and our communities and my philanthropic services reach both the local and international level. I have managed and coordinated medical and educational missions in Colombia and volunteered in disaster relief missions around the world. One of my most meaningful experiences was during the Bosnia-Herzegovina war, where I was able to assist a family in bringing their child to Central Florida for a lifesaving surgery. For the past decade, I have dedicated myself to the fight against AIDS by volunteering my time, talent, and treasure.
CENTRAL FLORIDA HISPANIC BUSINESS
The Hispanic business community in Orlando and Central Florida has expanded its economic footprint, and I project that trend will increase over the next five years. For instance, the U.S. Census shows that there are more than 52,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Central Florida. Florida ranks third in terms of Hispanic citizens, therefore entrepreneurship has and will continue to flourish as Hispanic leaders invest in starting their own businesses, and grow through the support of organizations like the HCCMO.
These numbers underscore the importance of establishing an inclusive professional space for Hispanic companies. All of the HCCMO events solidify professional partnerships and provide ample return on investment for our members. HCCMO’s focus on collaborative leadership allows our members to meet with other business leaders that they may not otherwise have contact with, in order to build leads across different services and industries.
From experience, Hispanic business owners concentrate heavily on sustaining current profits, rather than investing for the long-term. Educating our members on how to make this investment and scale for the future is the backbone of the HCCMO. We want our business leaders to build on what they learn to generate a successful business for years. Being a business owner is hard, and time is extremely precious, but we must educate our Hispanic business owners that investing now can/will guarantee a return on investment for their companies.
For instance, becoming a Minority-Certified Business is a long process and there are costs, therefore many Hispanic business owners steer away due to the immediate cash outlays. An investment in becoming Minority-Certified can guarantees leads in the long run. Investing now generates growth later. Having said this, the biggest challenge for Hispanic businesses is the same as any other business: access to capital.
Latinos are natural born entrepreneurs who are influenced by their parents or family members that have experience in owning businesses. Either working or establishing your own startup is the hot trend among Millennials, though the risk is high, the drive pushes them to launch out. Central Florida continues to expand its entrepreneurship footprint, similar to Silicon Valley, but at the startup stages.
Central Florida is an attractive economic proposition for the new entrepreneur because it is a startup and entrepreneur-friendly community. Current and incoming business leaders need to tap into the resources and organizations that are providing guidance and support for this movement. We are unique in this area in terms of partnerships and collaborations, which collectively makes for a very positive impact on our business community.