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11/7/2004

Latino Chamber group begins outreach effort

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — According to George Harbison, who works for U.S. Bank and is vice chairman of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County, word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing within the Latino culture.

Last week, Harbison and Miguel Medina, owner of Casa Medina and chairman of the chamber, visited with a couple of organizations to try to spread the word about the county’s first such chamber.

On Wednesday, they visited with about a dozen members of the Longmont League of Women Voters. Later that evening, Harbison and Medina turned up at the Longmont Senior Center for the second anniversary celebration of the Longmont Multicultural Plan.

Medina has been involved with the plan from the beginning and served on the economy task force, one of six formed as part of the city’s five-year multicultural plan.

“The whole idea of this thing that started two years ago is the same thing we’re trying to do with the Latino Chamber of Commerce,” Medina said. “If we join together, we can do a lot of things.”

Started earlier this year, the Latino chamber is open to anyone who wants to join.

As Medina told about a dozen members of the LLWV, “The reason I do this is I don’t want people to go through what I did. My business has been here 28 years, but it hasn’t been easy.”

The Latino chamber last month started charging dues — $10 a month or $120 a year.

The group has elected its officers and soon will have its bylaws and mission statement finalized.

It’s in the process of getting formal recognition as a nonprofit trade organization by the state.

So far, the group is limited in membership, with about 20 members, but last week was the start of what should be more outreach into the community.

As Harbison stressed to the LLWV, anyone is welcome into the group.

It’s estimated that Boulder County has about 500 Latino-owned businesses, with a fifth of those in Longmont.

The fact that the chamber has “Latino” in its name shouldn’t dissuade anyone from considering being a part of it, he said.

“Believe me, our intent is not to segregate the community,” he said. “We want to open this up to as many people as possible who would like to participate.

“I believe our intent is for any business member to have a voice in the community ... no matter how big or small.”

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.