The Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MAHCC) held its first Hispanic Business Forum at First State Manufacturing, Inc. in Milford on Thursday, April 19. Since its inception in 2002, MAHCC has become one of the leading voices for women, veteran and minority-owned businesses in the region. It advocates for economic, workforce and community development and champions the region as the "premier international destination and sought-after location to visit, start a business, live, work and play."
Dr. Jorge Ribas, President & CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, chose First State Manufacturing (FSM) in Milford to highlight one of the "Mid-Atlantic's most successful Hispanic-owned business." Owners Eli & Sher Valenzuela began what is now known as First State Manufacturing out of their garage in 1998 with one sewing machine and a lot of determination.
As an Army communications technician, Eli Valenzuela took a correspondence course on upholstery while serving with the Second Armored Division in Germany. This course ultimately led him towards developing a career that has been not only financially successful but personally fulfilling. While working at Dover Air Force Base Eli worked upholstering C-5 Galaxy aircrafts for the United States Air Force.
As they looked for a more cost effective, efficient way to create upholstery products and services, Sher and Eli decided to start a private business that would aim to do just that. For over 14 years FSM has been chosen by the United States Air Force to manufacture upholstery for military devices on the C-5s, V-22 Osprey and Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles.
Now President of the MAHCC Kent County Chapter, Eli Valenzuela feels it is necessary to share his experience and knowledge with the rest of the Hispanic community that is looking to begin a business in Delaware.
"There is a big influx of Latinos moving to this area, they have good minds to start businesses but do not know how," commented Mr. Valenzuela. "There are so many resources available to them and we need to educate them that above all it does not take a lot of money, but courage and determination."
The event provided individuals with tools and knowledge to operate a business more effectively, covering information on how to plan and start a business successfully, legal requirements of operating a business, appropriate accounting techniques and documenting, resources and information about insurance to protect a business and local banking opportunities and resources to finance businesses.
Individuals looking to start their own business and wanting more information on the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and its local chapters are urged to call Dr. Jorge Ribas, President and CEO of MAHCC, at 301-404-1946; Eli Valenzuela, President for the Kent County Chapter, at 302-236-9581; and Jose Somalo, President of the Sussex County Chapter, at 302-381-2205.
* * *