Today is: May 29, 2017
The Mission of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (HCCL) is to foster the continued economic growth, development, and promotion of Hispanic businesses and their associations in the State of Louisiana, and to serve as the conduit between the Hispanic business community and the community at large.
Profile of HCCL
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana is a non-profit organization created as the result of a merger in 1999 of two chambers: The Louisiana Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (incorporated in 1984) and The Gulf Coast International Chamber of Commerce (incorporated in 1990).
It is committed to creating and facilitating a business climate within the Hispanic community which will result in economic development and progress for Louisiana. Included within its focus is a dedication to the expansion of trade relations between the State of Louisiana and Latin America.
Just as HCCL works to build capacity in the Hispanic business community, so too does it work with traditional American businesses to help them approach this fastest growing minority population in the United States. We connect communities!
The Katrina Factor
The landscape of Louisiana was forever changed in August 2005 following Katrina. Since that time, thousands of Latinos have poured into the area to help us to rebuild our homes, our businesses, and our lives. Their culture and traditions are adding to and blending with the rich mosaic of our own creating new dynamics.
Creation of The Hispanic Business Resources & Technology Center (HBRTC)
The arrival of new Latinos post-Katrina brought new challenges. In response to these needs, HCCL launched its Hispanic Business Resources & Technology Center (HBRTC) in March 2006, the first such entity of its kind in the nation. Established with seed money from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the AT&T Foundation’s Casa Cyber Network, the HBRTC represents a coalition of public and private entities utilizing a holistic approach of providing business assistance, educational opportunities, and social services to the affected Hispanic community and represents a real approach to addressing ethnic cultural sensitivity and language barriers.
Bilingual Workforce Development Training Program at HBRTC
As we move farther away from Katrina, the programs and services originally offered at the HBRTC have accordingly evolved. Today we are proud to offer the only web-based bilingual soft skills workforce development training program in the State. Adult learners can study at their own pace at the Center with the assistance of a Hispanic instructor/case manager, or can work from computers at home or the library. A bilingual GED course is also offered. We have enrolled over 200 adult learners per year into the workforce training program since it began in 2008, and have placed over 150 learners per year in full time jobs. HCCL engages with the local business community to help fill their employment needs.
Being housed on the campus of our partner Delgado Community College – Jefferson Campus (formerly the Louisiana Technical College,) many of our adult students have gone on to enroll in vocational training programs studying nursing, welding, refrigeration, etc. As we help to build a more skilled labor force, the economy improves and all parties benefit.
The Hispanic Apostolate of Catholic Charities was our very first partner at the HBRTC. Today that partnership has blossomed into an even closer relationship and together we work to serve the Hispanic population. Whereas immediately after the storm only workers themselves came to Louisiana, as time has passed, their families have joined them here and they have put down roots and placed their children in our school systems. Housed with us at the Center, the Apostolate’s Promotoras de Salud (Health Promoters) provide health counseling, and arrange for medical care for Hispanics who can’t otherwise access treatment due to language barriers. They also provide educational programs, emergency assistance, immigration services, workers’ rights workshops, citizenship classes, ESL classes, and most recently, first-time homebuyer seminars.
Entrepreneurship Training Courses
Expanding our commitment to educate the Latino community, in September 2009 HCCL began an ongoing partnership with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) to offer entrepreneurship training programs at the HBRTC in the evenings with all seminars being offered in Spanish. We further worked with U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship to have their committee’s brochures on business resources in Louisiana translated into Spanish.
Involvements and Collaborations
The New Orleans Business Alliance:
Today the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana is more visible than ever. We are increasingly sought out to participate in collaborative endeavors focused on economic development. In August 2010, we were appointed a founding seat on the New Orleans Business Alliance – the public private partnership for economic development for the City of New Orleans.
The Asian Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce:
Keenly engaged in minority business issues, in early 2011 we spearheaded alliances with the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, and with the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana to collaborate on issues of mutual importance. Tri-chamber events allow our members get to know one another, work together, and address minority business concerns.
The New Orleans City Council:
We are ever more engaged with the City Council on issues dealing with minority and DBE contracts. Since 2010 we have heightened our focus on these contract issues. We work with Hispanic businesses to build companies of scale so that they can attain greater participation in the opportunities that become available.
The Latino Council:
In June 2009, Gov. Jindal signed into law House Bill 521 creating the Louisiana Council on the Provision of Governmental Services to Latin Americans, thereinafter called the Latin Council. HCCL holds a founding seat on this Council through which it is working at the forefront of issues related to economic development and workforce development training for Latinos.
The Political & Economic Research Council (PERC):
HCCL is a member of the Advisory Board of PERC, the Political & Economic Research Council, a think tank in the Washington DC area whose ongoing 5-year study includes the relationship of the Latino community to the recovery of the region post-Katrina.
The Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA)
HCCL has been closely engaged since 2007 with the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), a non-profit funded by the Rockefeller Family Foundation, on its ongoing Hispanic Integration Initiative which studies the impact of immigrant workers on the economy of the United States. HCCL helped AS/COA with their two-year study in New Orleans which culminated in the presentation of a White Paper on Capitol Hill in July 2009 documenting the Hispanics’ impact on our own recovery post-Katrina.
HCCL has often been featured in documentaries and news interviews which have aired nationally and internationally, produced by the major Spanish speaking television networks Univision, Telemundo, Televisa, Discovery en espanol, and CNN en espanol. It has local weekly Spanish radio shows on 5 stations in which it educates the Hispanic entrepreneurial community on business and policy issues of importance with which they may not be familiar due to language barriers.
In 2006 HCCL was awarded the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s President’s Award for establishing a capacity building institution and providing leadership for Hispanic businesses after the devastation of Katrina. In September 2006 it was recognized by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as “The National Small Hispanic Chamber of the Year.”