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Natalie Gochnour is an associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber.
We should always walk like one family.
We are all in the same cause and need.
Together we make up the same future.
Alone we are not worth anything.
Together, we have great value.
- Cesar Chavez
If you ever get the chance to interact with Javier Palomarez, take it.
Palomarez is the president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He not only sees the future, but he is also living it as the leader of America’s largest Hispanic business association. Our country’s economy benefits from his vision, hard work and commitment to commerce. By heeding his counsel to harness the strength of this country’s young, growing, creative and hard-working Hispanic population, we will be more prosperous as a state and nation.
Palomarez will bring his organization’s coveted national convention to Salt Lake City this September. For three days this fall, Salt Lake City will be the center
of business and Hispanic commerce in this country. Not bad for a small state in the interior West. It says something about Utah and about the national Hispanic chamber.
In his advocacy, Palomarez points out that America’s Hispanic population is business minded, entrepreneurial and hard working. He quotes from a recent report showing that America’s 3.1 million Hispanic-owned businesses contribute in excess of $468 billion to the U.S. economy each year. That’s real money.
But it’s more than the money; it’s the people—Hispanic business owners, employees and customers all contribute to American commerce. Palomarez suggests that in order to compete in today’s economy, and more importantly, in the economy of the future, businesses must target, recruit and sell to the rapidly growing Hispanic population. That’s true nationally and in Utah as firms like Zions Bank, which recently became a major supporter of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber, make Hispanic business a priority.
Other business partners of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber include major companies like American Express, AT&T, BMW, Cisco, The Coca-Cola Company, Intel, FedEx, Google, Marriott, Target, Toyota, Visa and Wells Fargo, to name just a small subset. Hispanic business is American business. American companies understand the importance of this country’s vibrant and talented Hispanic population.
There’s an old trick in economics. If you want to understand the future economy, look at the children in elementary and secondary education. Palomarez says one in four school kids in the United States are Hispanic today. It’s even greater in some areas in Utah, like the Salt Lake City School District, where Hispanics comprise over 40 percent of total enrollment. Next time you hear someone reference the “rising generation,” think about a multi-cultural, ethnically rich and often bi-lingual talent force. That’s America and that’s Utah. Those who cultivate this asset will be the economic winners of tomorrow.
Importantly, Palomarez emphasizes that the national Hispanic chamber chose to host their national convention here in part because the Beehive State appreciates the contributions of Hispanics to our economy and culture. He values the collaborative spirit that exists in Utah and the way community leaders rallied to support sensible immigration reform through the genius of The Utah Compact. Palomarez says it’s no accident that Utah is a top-performing state economy and a state that welcomes immigrants. I agree.
Listening to Palomarez, I recognize the similarities between the community he represents and those of us in Utah of every ethnicity. The U.S. Hispanic population is young and growing, just like the population in Utah. Most of this growth is coming through a high birthrate, not immigration or migration. The U.S. Hispanic population is widely recognized as family-oriented, just like the population in Utah. Finally, many Hispanics are people of faith, something that is also true of many Utahns. Palomarez even goes so far as to make a business connection to faith by saying that adhering to a moral compass helps you run a great business. I like this guy.
Palomarez reminds us that people always talk about diversity without defining what it is. He says diversity is less about skin color and more about what’s in your heart and head. The Utah he’s come to know embraces this diversity and shares a common bond with the population he represents.
I want to be the first to welcome the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention to Utah this September. I want these Hispanic business leaders to know that we appreciate their contributions to American business and the economy of Utah. I want them to know we recognize that, in life and in business, people of good will must walk together. Utah is a place that values the industry, the patriotism, the entrepreneurship, the diversity of faith and the family values of America’s extraordinary Hispanic population. Together, we all make America great.