Salt Lake City is the Place

In 1847, the Salt Lake City’s founder  – Brigham Young – saw the city and was immediately stricken by its natural beauty; the fortress of high mountains, the bright white snow, green hills, clear rapid waters, and a cool breeze that carried the majesty of all creation. Brigham Young saw that valley, and famously declared, “this is the place.”

 Brigham Young was right. And today, 167 years later, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) will make history again: Utah is the place for our 2014 National Convention.

As the nation’s largest business association of its kind, the USHCC represents America’s 3.2 million Hispanic-owned companies, which together contribute more than $468 billion to our economy, each year. We also advocate on behalf of 230 major US companies, and we do our work through a network of over 200 local chambers and business associations nationwide.

 From Dallas to Miami, Los Angeles to Chicago, we’ve brought our National Convention to metropolitan areas that are renowned for their economic power, pro-business climate, and welcoming embrace of those who want to work, engage, and contribute. That same spirit takes us to Salt Lake City on September 21-23, 2014where we will once again convene the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders, major corporate executives, and government officials in America.

 While many might think bringing our national convention to Utah is counterintuitive, the USHCC has always done the unexpected, blazed its own trail, charted its own course, and embarked on its own discoveries. That’s what sets us apart from others—and similarly—what sets Utah apart. And we’re not alone on this journey, joining us this year are prominent national figures including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Secretary Julian Castro, and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

What makes Utah so attractive to these individuals? For years, unbeknownst to many, this destination has been renowned for its strong economy and embrace of diversity. Today, Utah is ranked the number one pro-business state by the Wall Street Journal, which called Utah “the brightest star on the American flag,” and was also named the ‘Best State for Business and Careers’ by Forbes for three years in a row. Indeed, Utah is at the confluence of commerce and culture, arts and athletics, fun and faith.

Additionally, small businesses and entrepreneurs have made Utah one of the fastest-growing economies in the country. Over 57,000 small businesses call Utah home, employing over 500,000 people. This open and accepting culture of the American West has been particularly welcoming to the Hispanic community, which is why today Hispanics comprise 15% of the state’s total population. In fact, Utah’s Hispanic population has grown by 80% in the last decade alone and today, more than 10,000 Hispanic-owned firms contribute billions to the state’s economy, every year.

The evidence is clear: we are on the brink of a new age of growth, progress, collaboration and prosperity in America – and Utah is on the frontier of this rising tide.

By Javier Palomarez


Planning for the American Dream

When I started my own insurance agency as a young man in the late ‘80s, I didn’t think I was on the front edge of a trend, but as a Hispanic entrepreneur, it appears that I played a small part in starting something big.

According to a study released last year by Geoscape and commissioned by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses was expected to grow to more than 3.16 million in 2013, representing a growth rate of nearly 40 percent since 2007. This is truly an amazing rate of growth, but are Latino business owners ready to face what comes with business ownership?

While Hispanics are leading the way in this country as entrepreneurs, another study reveals troubling contradictions and gaps in Hispanic business owners’ fiscal knowledge and use of tools available to them to help them create a more solid future for themselves. This leads to ask the question: are Hispanic business owners putting achievement of their “American Dream” at risk?

Many of the answers to this question and others were found in the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s (MassMutual) “Business Owner Perspectives Study.” It’s a comprehensive review of multicultural business owners’ dreams, opinions and overall financial health. The data showed that Latino business owners report to a higher degree that providing for their families is the strongest driver for going into business. Yet they’re not planning what they need to do in order to help protect their families and businesses. This is especially surprising when you consider that 55 percent of Hispanic entrepreneurs vs. 35 percent of the general population report a major reason why they created their business was to have something to pass on to their children. And yet only 1 in 4 Hispanic entrepreneurs have a succession plan.

The research shows, as was true with me as a young man, that Hispanics want control over their personal finances. However, three in 10 say it is all they can do to keep up with everyday business expenses, much less think about the future. This leads to real concerns among respondents related to their financial situation both at home and at their businesses. These challenges are even greater for those without higher education and limited English-language skills.

Many Latino entrepreneurs were motivated to start their businesses to pursue the American Dream and provide for their families. About two-thirds said they wanted to follow their dreams, a much larger percentage than with the general-market business owner at only 36 percent, and approximately 54 percent reported that “giving back to the community” was a driver of opening their businesses compared to 21 percent of the general population.

At the same time, Hispanic business owners put their all into their businesses, striving for current success, but as firmly as their eyes are on the present, there is a lack of planning about the future. They certainly are thinking about the future. They’re simply not taking the steps needed to secure it to pass their dreams on to the next generation. Only 17 percent are concerned about transitioning ownership upon retirement vs. 32 percent of the general population: however, most Hispanic business owners do know who will take over their business, as seven in 10 plan to pass their business on to a family member.

Interestingly, Hispanic business owners may have started their business to find the American Dream, but they are so involved in day-to-day operations that they haven’t put a plan in place to achieve their own personal financial goals. Twenty-three percent have too many immediate financial concerns to think about saving for retirement, compared to 16 percent of general market businesses, and approximately 28 percent don’t have time to get involved in managing investments. More concerning, they don’t even know where to go for help. Eighteen percent say they wouldn’t know where to go for financial assistance.

I am proof that Latinos understood the meaning of the “American Dream” long before the term was coined. As businesses owners, we put incredible pressure on our own shoulders to succeed, not just for ourselves, but for the good of our families and the success of future generations. The good news is that many Hispanic business owners actually know to whom they want to transition their businesses, as part of their dream in providing for their families – they just need to understand the advantages of planning for both the success of their business and their financial matters. I believe that having a formal succession plan and the information and tools they need will help improve their ability to achieve that dream and the many that follow.

Chris Michael Mendoza, LUTCF, DBA, is vice president of multicultural market development for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) in Springfield, MA. Mendoza has 26 years in the insurance and financial services industry. He can be reached at