Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

August 23, 2013

Free enterprise igniting stronger Latino community

Their leaders have a responsibility to mentor the young.

(Continued)

Steps have been taken to ensure that this continues across the state. At the Hispanic Business Council (HBC), for example, a strong mentorship program has been in place for several years that pairs stronger firms with emerging ones and offers the former the chance to share knowledge and experiences and the latter a way to learn and tailor best practices to their business models. This is instrumental not only for businesses’ prosperity, but for the well-being of their employees and for the communities in which they reside.

Similarly, the Indiana’s Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs has recently partnered in two public/private micro-lending programs, in both rural and urban settings, that have engaged important local community organizations and helped spur Latino entrepreneurship at the very grassroots level. Fostering entrepreneurial growth at the neighborhood level has demonstrated real gains in educational achievement and community strengthening in other states, and as such efforts have taken root here Latino entrepreneurs have become catalysts for local improvement and innovations.

In the same way, numerous local professional organizations have inspired their membership of both up-andcoming and established Latino business leaders to engage socially and create change by pulling their communities up by their proverbial bootstraps. After all, Indiana’s Latino professionals have the capacity to lead.

Amidst the fiestas and parades and Corona commercials this Hispanic Heritage Month, then, let’s also commend and celebrate the ascendency of Indiana’s Latino businesses and the leaders that make them go. And let’s encourage them to always collaborate with one another and understand both their individual and collective responsibility to continue developing their communities and providing opportunities for the thousands of young Latinos that will be so instrumental in shaping Indiana’s economic and cultural landscapes into the future.

Danny Lopez is executive director of the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. Rafael Sanchez is chairman of the Indianapolis Chamber’s Hispanic Business Council.

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