Spotlight On Local Diversity

Business Groups To Hold Social Event

Posted: September 4, 2014

HARRISONBURG — The local business community is becoming more diverse, and two regional business groups are teaming up to celebrate the change and help bridge potential cultural gaps.

Marketing to Diversity 2014 will be held from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at CrossKeys Vineyards.

The event is sponsored by the Forward/Adelante Business Alliance, an affiliate of the Charlottesville-based bilingual business publication Forward/Adelante, and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce Diversity Business Council.

Registration is $20 through Sept. 14 and $25 after.

The event offers entrepreneurs a chance to meet and mingle with their peers from different backgrounds.

An Excellence in Local Business Award will be presented to Gervasio Amato of L’Italia Restaurant.

Cultural performances and international food are also planned, with some of the proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

The event’s keynote speaker is Jorge Gutierrez, CEO of business management and operations consulting firm BMOC Group of Woodstock.

He also serves as co-chairman of the chamber’s Diversity Business Council.

Olga Morse, publisher of Forward/Adelante, said FABA holds two events in Charlottesville annually and decided it was time to spread those efforts into the Shenandoah Valley.

“It’s something we want to do to enhance membership and reach out to the Latino community, the diverse community in general,” she said, “and we felt that this would be a very good vehicle.”

The chamber still is seeking sponsors for the event, which Morse expects to draw 100 to 150 people.

To register, visit www.forwardvirginia.com/tickets/ .

Changing Community

The community’s demographics have been changing over the years.

U.S. census data shows that between 2000 and 2010, the population of people identifying themselves as something other than white — including multiracial people — grew by more than 13,000.

Nearly 6,000 of those new nonwhite residents identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, by far the largest group.

The business community has changed, too, as more people from other countries have become entrepreneurs.

Some of those business owners, Morse said, tend not to network very often, either with people from different or similar cultures.

Marketing to Diversity aims to change that.

“It’s a two-lane bridge,” she said. “It would be a help to so many business owners to mainstream.”

Morse said there’s hesitancy to get involved in the business community.

“Even among our own group of professionals that are fully bilingual and really mainstream, they still don’t believe as much in gathering, in belonging to different groups like the chambers,” she said. “They tend to stay in their own little pocket of comfort.”

Frank Tamberrino, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber’s president and CEO, said the increased diversity of the business community makes such events important for the chamber to support.

“This is a first-time event,” he said, “but one that is overdue.”

Through Marketing for Diversity, Morse said she hopes minority business owners start to view themselves as significant parts of the business community as a whole and take advantage of more networking opportunities.

If You Go

Event: Marketing to Diversity 2014

When: 5 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 16

Where: CrossKeys Vineyard, 6011 E. Timber Ridge Road, Mount Crawford

Cost: $20 through Sept. 14, $25 after

Registration: Available at www.forwardvirginia.com/tickets/

Contact Vic Bradshaw at 574-6279 or vbradshaw@dnronline.com



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