Hispanic entrepreneurs and other business and community leaders are in Durham today for the Annual Hispanic Market Advantage Conference.
Iris Ramirez Reese is the CEO of Fusion Multicultural Marketing and Communications and she helped organize the conference.
Reese says there were a lot of haters when she first got started.
“I remember when I started my business people thought I was crazy! 'You’re going to start a Hispanic focused marketing and advertising agency? Are you kidding me?'” Reese recalls.
Reese has been in business for 15 years. She says the focus of this year's Hispanic Market Advantage Conference is defining technology as a business tool. Reese says Hispanic businesses are no longer just made up of tiendas or bodegas or mandados or restaurantes. Businesses are now providing goods and services.
Reese says the Hispanic business landscape is evolving and language skills are less of a problem.
“That’s all changing, we have children now that were born here, are growing up bilingual, are stepping into their parent’s businesses," said Reese. "They are using social media to grow their parent’s businesses, so it’s changing. The dynamics are changing.”
National numbers show Hispanic businesses have consistently grown 8 percent annually.
Small and big Hispanic businesses will be represented at the statewide conference at the Durham Hilton near Duke University.
Alex Alvarez, Global Supply Manager for Supplier Diversity at Apple Computers is the keynote speaker. Conference sponsors and business partners include SAS, PNC, The N.C. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and NCIMED, the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development.