The Latino Chamber of Commerce's Growth Spurt

Local resource provides educational opportunities and small-biz advice

It sounds cliché, but Julia Arata-Fratta and Claudio Diaz are true believers in the American dream. Both are immigrants (Argentina and Cuba, respectively) from successful, hardworking families who instilled in them the value of education and community. And the life lessons and talents of both are on display in their work with the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County, created to promote guidance and success for Latino professionals and businesses.

Since taking over as board president, Arata-Fratta, along with Diaz as marketing committee chair, has positioned the chamber to improve economic development opportunities. The chamber has increased its visibility with breakfast, lunch and happy hour networking called Enlace (“Link”) and building partnerships with organizations like the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation to open access to capital for new business owners, and Madison College, which hosts six “lunch and learn” sessions every year to teach professionals how to procure minority business certification.

But the difference maker was the decision to combine the chamber’s resources with like-minded organizations such as the Latino Academy, which focuses on workforce development, and the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee to build a Madison chapter. As a result of these efforts, the Latino chamber has grown from 25 to more than 100 members, with a goal of breaking 200 by the end of 2012. Arata-Fratta gives the credit to the board of directors, because, she says, “Everything that we achieve is because of them.”
By working hard and playing by the rules, Arata-Fratta and Diaz are paving the way for themselves and others to live out their American dream right here in Madison.

THE VITALS

• LCC’s mission: “to maximize economic development and job  creation through advocacy and programs that generate success and value for our Latino and non-Latino business community”
• LCC president is Julia Arata-Fratta
• Founded in 2003
• 95 active members; 13 board members; 1 part-time employee
• On average monthly, 20 members receive LCC services, including technical assistance, classes/seminars and networking events
• camaralatinadecomercio.org

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The Breakdown

DEEDS, NOT WORDS

In what’s hopefully a sign of progress, after all of the political turmoil in Wisconsin this year, Gov. Scott Walker has been meeting with several Democrats, including Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, as well as several state senate minority leaders on how the two sides can work together on bringing jobs back to Wisconsin. Let’s hope the dialogue continues for the good of the state and its citizens.

NAMING RIGHTS

A huge honor was bestowed recently on civil rights pioneer Vel Phillips—a UW–Madison dorm was renamed in her honor. Phillips is a former Wisconsin secretary of state, and in 1978 she became the first woman and black person to hold a state office. It is the second UW campus building named after a person of color.

TAKING THE LEAD

Congratulations to Richard Brown Sr., recently named the 2011 Reverend James C. Wright Human Rights Award winner by the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission. Brown is a businessman and activist who served two terms on the Dane County Board of Supervisors and has worked tirelessly to protect and further the civil and human rights of Madison’s minority communities. His impact and contributions cannot be understated

Derrell Connor hosts “Outreach” on NewsTalk 1310 WIBA, pens a column for Channel 3000 and freelances for Madison Magazine.

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