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Hispanic summit gets a business look

John Seelmeyer

Business rather than politics will be in the spotlight during the seventh annual Hispanic Leadership Summit in Reno in October and organizers hope the interest in business boosts the region’s economy.

This year’s edition of the leadership summit Oct.

16-18 is expected to draw at least 4,000 people from around the nation for sessions that will focus on international trade and other business issues.

“This year, we will look at what Hispanics bring instead of what Hispanics ask,” said Bert Ramos, the chair of the organization.

But equally important, he said last week, will be efforts by the conference organizers to present the Reno-Tahoe area as a vacation destination for Hispanic families and a meetings location for Hispanic businesspeople.

“We’re going to be pushing the Reno market for leisure and business travel,” Ramos said.

The organization’s Web site, for instance, will include a pitch for the region’s tourism.

(The site is at http://www.hispanicsummit.org.) While a strong regional economy isn’t purely a question of Hispanic well-being, Ramos said conference organizers recognize that jobs for the entire population depend in part on a strong tourism sector.

“We want this conference to be an economic windfall for northern Nevada,” he said.

“What’s good for Hispanics is good for the state.

By actions rather than words, we want to show the benefits of a diverse Nevada.

We want to showcase northern Nevada businesses.”

The pitch to Hispanic travelers, he said, may be especially promising because many have above-average amounts of disposable income, tend to vacation for longer periods than other groups and often travel with extended family groups.

With its focus on business and trade issues, the 35 volunteers who are organizing this year’s Hispanic Leadership Summit have assembled a lineup of business- related speakers including:

* George Herrera, president of the U.S.

Hispanic Chamber of commerce.

* Claudia Sanchez, an education correspondent for National Public Radio.

* Kenia Davalos-Romero, director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Also invited are several top business and trade officials in the Bush Administration.

Ramos said the emphasis on export trade was carefully selected because businesses ranging from large national corporations to small family organizations can benefit from increased export opportunities.

Along with admission fees and the revenues from a concert that accompanies the summit, the event is funded by corporate sponsorships.

Ramos said this year’s sponsors include International Game Technology, Harrah’s, and Intel among others, and organizers continue to seek more sponsorship support.

The annual event alternates between Reno and Las Vegas.


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