By Pablo Gonzales | Assistant News Editor
Located in a bright orange building on LaSalle Ave. between 10th and 11th street, the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce stimulates economic development in Central Texas by partnering with government leaders, small businesses and Hispanic consumers.
According to its website, the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce works with the City of Waco and the City of Bellmead on economic development projects such and job recruiting. Corporate managers leverage their connections with Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to create connections within the community and to work on community outreach projects. Small business owners can join the organization and enjoy affordable networking and business building programs.
On top of partnering with local businesses, Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has a segment on the Waco city cable channel called “Noticias,” where communications director Ivon Mendoza does an eight to 10 minute interview with a local business owner in English and Spanish and highlights their business.
Cen-Tex also hosts luncheons where it invites city council members to come and network with small business owners.
Some of the bigger events that Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce puts together are its annual Back-to-School Bash in August and Christmas Drive in December. Larger businesses like Cricket’s Bar and Grill and Walmart have partnered with Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to donate food and merchandise at these events.
“Our community outreach events are geared at improving the quality of life in Waco,” Mendoza said. “We want to give businesses to give back to the community that they serve and help others at the same time.”
At the heart of Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s work is mobilizing Latino businesses in Waco, Mendoza said. Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offers business workshops led by the board members who have business experience for Latino business owners to help them apply for business loans and grants
“It really helps that our board members are bilingual,” Mendoza said. “If the business owners have questions, they are able to help them directly one-on-one.”
Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Joe M. Rodriguez has served in this position for 22 years. He says that the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role in the city of Waco.
According to Rodriguez, the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce connects Latinos with the rest of Waco.
“We help Latinos in town find work and contribute to our city,” Rodriguez said. “We use our database to help people find jobs. We create relationships between businesses and people to help people be successful in their lives.”