CHAMBERSBURG - The first ever Hispanic Business Forum aims to assist current and aspiring Hispanic business owners as they launch and manage their own businesses.
The forum, free and open to all community members, is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Chambersburg Mall's community room. It is sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.
"The main purpose of the Hispanic Business Forum is to be able to educate either current business owners or people who are thinking of starting their own businesses," said Will Ortiz, I-81 area coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Chamber of Commerce.
Speakers will address four main aspects of business operations - legal, banking, insurance and financial, Ortiz said.
The forum will begin at 9:30 a.m. with registration, a continental breakfast and networking opportunities.
Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., will offer opening remarks at 10 a.m. Various presenters are to speak between 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. and include a question-and-answer period as follows:
- 10:15 a.m. - Becky Ables, attorney with Salzmann Hughes.
- 11:15 a.m. - Mary Trinidad, banker with Patriot Federal Credit Union.
- Noon - Working lunch.
- 12:15 p.m. - Maria Hernandez, insurance agent with Nationwide Insurance.
- 1:15 p.m. - Ericka Nelson, financial adviser, Edward Jones.
- 2:15 p.m. - Closing remarks.
The lectures will be in English; however, officials were particular in picking presenters who are bilingual, Ortiz said. During the question-and-answer session, presenters will be able to speak in either English or Spanish.
Ortiz is unsure exactly how many Hispanic businesses there are in Chambersburg or the county, but has been reaching out and networking with as many as possible.
"There's definitely a handful downtown that I've personally gotten a chance to meet face-to-face," he said. "This is a brand new pool that we've been able to begin to tap into."
As promotion of events and community awareness continues, Ortiz hopes to learn about more businesses in the area and reach out to them as well.
"Better education means that people are going to be doing better business," he said. "Even just not Latinos, people in general who have a business - it never hurts to periodically refresh your memory."
One of the main ideas will be encouraging business owners on how to better market their business locally and regionally, Ortiz said.
"A lot of people don't know how to market their own business," he said. "If you use newspapers, magazines, the Internet, then somebody down the road in a different little town could be more exposed to it and that would encourage their business to grow."
This not only helps that individual business but also creates a ripple effect, bringing more people into the area that might be interested in other local businesses as well, Ortiz said.