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The Economic Power of Diversity: A Personal Reflection During Hispanic Heritage Month

Headshot of Omar CuevasHispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, is not merely a time for cultural reflection. It’s also an occasion to acknowledge the vital economic roles of Hispanic and Latino Americans.

As an executive for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce with Hispanic heritage, I find this month particularly meaningful, as our local Hispanic community enriches our economy in multifaceted ways.

 

A Lesson from Nana

Growing up, my Nana emphasized the importance of “el servicio a los demás” — service to others. She taught me that we all have a role to play in supporting our community, whether it’s by lending a helping hand or empowering others to succeed. This fundamental principle has not just shaped my personal values, but also guided my leadership approach in the Grand Rapids Chamber.

 

The Hispanic Community: A Growing Economic Force

Hispanics constitute about 18.5% of the U.S. population and play a critical role in various sectors of the economy. Our influence is not merely statistical but transformational, driving entrepreneurship and creating new opportunities in the workforce.

The Power of Local Business

Hispanic-owned enterprises in Grand Rapids are incredibly diverse, from family-run eateries to high-tech startups. These businesses create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and contribute to a resilient and competitive local market. They embody my Nana’s teachings, serving the community by providing valuable goods, services, and employment opportunities.

The Workforce and Skill Sets

Hispanic individuals also contribute significantly to the Grand Rapids workforce. We bring a diverse set of skills to various sectors, and our dedication to our roles can’t be overstated. As we develop workforce initiatives, it’s essential that we serve this vital community, enabling pathways for career advancement and success.

Investing Back into the Community

From buying homes to supporting local businesses and focusing on education, the Hispanic community’s economic impact extends well beyond employment and entrepreneurship. Their investment in the community aligns with the principle of service to others that I hold dear, further strengthening our local economy.

 

The Chamber’s Commitment

At the Grand Rapids Chamber, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive and thriving prosperous West Michigan for All. That’s why we have initiatives tailored to support Hispanic/Latino businesses through our Center for Economic Inclusion, our Diverse Business Enterprise Certification program and our 1:1 ecosystem navigators. Being fierce advocates of an inclusive economy isn’t just ethical; it’s economically smart.

 

Get Involved

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, let us recognize that the strength of our economy lies in its diversity. The service-to-others principle, which I learned from my Nana, is not just a familial value but an economic imperative for a thriving community.

Join us in the upcoming events, workshops, and panels focused on celebrating and supporting our vibrant, diverse community. Together, let’s build a Grand Rapids where economic opportunities are accessible to everyone, regardless of their background.

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