Nonprofits  December 6, 2021

NoCo Latino Chamber of Commerce to hold inaugural planning meeting

FORT COLLINS — Northern Colorado will once again have a Latino Chamber of Commerce. At 6 p.m. Dec. 7, the chamber will host a planning meeting for Latino and Latina business owners and executives to explore its development. The meeting will be held in the LCRM Hearing Room of the county offices at 200 W. Oak St.

Jose Luis Ramos, a bilingual business specialist with the city of Fort Collins who is liaising between the chamber and city, said more than 50 businesses have expressed interest in joining and about 30 came to a previous planning meeting. At Tuesday’s meeting, the chamber will decide on its structure and look at its options for physical infrastructure.

“There are a lot of new Latino businesses coming into the scene,” Ramos said. “They’re the ones that are driving this. A lot of entrepreneurs, people who got laid off during COVID and started a business. Some of these companies are employing people already. I think we can make connections for people.”

Lidia Varela, internal marketing and events coordinator at High Country Beverage who is helping organize the chamber, told BizWest the effort to create it began in October.

“It was just like-minded Latino business owners and executives who got together and thought this was something that we need in Northern Colorado,” Varela said. 

The chamber is very much still in its infancy stages, Varela said. For now, it will share infrastructure with the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. Ramos said that at a previous meeting Ann Hutchison, president and CEO of the Fort Collins chamber, gave the Latino chamber a presentation about how to start a chamber. The Latino Chamber of Boulder County also shared a presentation about how a Latino chamber can succeed. 

Varela said the chamber will not be tied to one city but will represent all of Northern Colorado. 

“It’s been something I definitely felt Northern Colorado as a whole has needed for a very long time,” she said. “We need to be able to serve all of the Northern Colorado cities and make an impact within the area.”

Ramos said one reason that is so important is that many Latino small-business owners own multiple companies in different municipalities. 

“We wanted them to feel welcome,” he said.

The inaugural meeting is open to up to 100 in-person attendees. Those interested can also attend via Zoom. 

“Right now, we’re just spreading the word to all businesses,” Varela said. “Anyone is more than welcome to attend and hear out what we have coming up.”

Two former iterations of a Northern Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce, based in Greeley, eventually shut down.

“We’re trying to attract more Greeley businesses and make them understand that it’s not the same effort or group as before,” Ramos said. 

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Tommy Wood

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