By Robin Blackburn – San Marcos Record
Friday, September 7, 2018
Priscilla Luna-Wood, vice president of Today’s Business Solutions, embodies the purpose of the Hispanic Business Convention of Texas. “I feel like every lunch I eat by myself is a lost opportunity for networking,” Luna-Wood said during her keynote speech at the opening session of the convention, which is taking place through Saturday at the Embassy Suites-City of San Marcos Convention Center.
Luna-Wood spoke during a networking session for suppliers and buyers about the importance of strategic networking for entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses. She said it is important to get to know who your potential customers are and to find ways to sit down at a table with potential buyers. Research, she said, is a key part of that.
“My daughter sometimes tells me that I’m creepy because of the amount of research I do,” Luna-Wood said. “… but that creepiness is putting her through private school.”
She also emphasized the importance of staying motivated. “Dreams demand hustle,” she said.
The convention provides representatives from minority-owned and small businesses a chance to get to know each other and take advantage of the resources that are available to help grow their businesses.
J.R. Gonzales from the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC), which organizes the convention, said that as minority-owned businesses become more plentiful, making sure they have an even playing field is becoming more important. The networking and business development opportunities available at the Hispanic Business Convention of Texas are meant to do just that.
“It’s an opportunity to open doors for minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses,” said Joe Lopez, who is representing Ford Motor Company at the convention. Lopez said Ford has sponsored the event for the last five years.
ADVOCATING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Gonzales said that TAMACC and Hispanic chambers of commerce are not just for Hispanics, nor are they meant to diminish the roles of other chambers of commerce. Rather, he said, Hispanic business groups tend to focus more on small businesses and thus serve a different set of needs. There are more than 700,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Texas, and that number is growing, as is the number of businesses owned by Hispanic women, Gonzales said.
Looking at those numbers and the current demographics —- including the large number of Hispanic Americans under age 18 —- indicates that small and minority-owned businesses need to be looking at their assets and preparing for growth, he said. TAMACC helps with that, he said, by advocating for those businesses and offering services like planning, professional development workshops and HUB (Historically Underutilized Businesses) certification.
HUB is a program that brings visibility to minority-owned businesses — including businesses owned by women and disabled veterans —- and helps them compete for contracts with both government agencies and private businesses.
TAMACC is looking to open a chapter in San Marcos, Gonzales said.
“We see San Marcos as a great growth opportunity for TAMACC to bring in more people in Hays County and be able to provide services, resources and mentoring that small businesses need,” he said.
WHAT THE CONVENTION OFFERS
Gonzales said that TAMACC intends to hold the Hispanic Business Convention of Texas in San Marcos for the next four to five years. “It just made sense,” he said, adding that the growth in the San Marcos area and the location in the middle of the state and the heart of the Interstate 35 corridor make it a good spot for the convention, which usually travels around the state from year to year.
“We’re off to a good start,” he said. “Overall we’ve been welcomed by the community.”
The convention continues today with a business expo, a Latina Empowerment Luncheon, and a variety of workshops on subjects including leadership, digital marketing, self-promotion, entrepreneurship and the state of the HUB program in Texas. From 7-11 tonight, the convention will become a “Vegas Fiesta,” with casino games, live and silent auctions and live entertainment. The fiesta has no admission charge and is open to the public.
Tomorrow morning, convention attendees are encouraged to spend time visiting the attractions in San Marcos before a box lunch and more workshops at the convention center. The convention will wrap up tomorrow night with a gala and awards banquet.
For more information, visit the Hispanic Business Convention of Texas’ website.