Courting the Hispanic dollar
September 15, 2009
Hispanics are important to Park City’s business community not just as customers, but as entrepreneurs and investors, says Realtor Blanca Gohary. They do a lot more than work in fast food outlets and clean hotel rooms, she said.
Gohary, who also owns the restaurant Good Karma with her Iranian husband Houman Gohary, believes recognizing and increasing diversity in Park City is important.
Last Tuesday she invited the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, of which she’s a member, to a joint luncheon with members of the Park City Chamber/Bureau at Good Karma.
The purpose of the Hispanic chamber’s meetings is networking, explained chairperson-elect Paula Jojola Brog.
"Hispanics are a $6 billion market annually. They make up about 16 percent of the population in the state. With these numbers, businesses in Utah should recognize the Hispanic market," she said. "We’re not all working in McDonald’s either. We have businesses, we have education and experience."
With networking as the goal, the chamber has many non-Hispanic members, she said. Representatives from major national brands sit on their board. Those members who are Latin American come from all over, not just Mexico, she said.
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People usually join the chamber to learn more about getting the Hispanic dollar, she said, but then the board can recruit them in service. The chamber’s favorite initiative is encouraging education.
Miguel Rovira with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is on the board and attended Tuesday’s luncheon. He said the chamber gave out about $275,000 worth of scholarships last year – many to students going into engineering, science and mathematical fields.
Park City already has several businesses owned by Hispanics, Gohary pointed out, including Anaya’s Market, La Michoacana, Alpenhof Condominiums and her own two.
Her husband Houman Gohary said membership in the Hispanic chamber has been beneficial in making more people in Salt Lake City aware of their restaurant.
Gohary said she’s interested in drawing more Park City businesses into the Salt Lake City-based chamber as well as those in Midway and Heber as a way to let people know that not all Hispanics in Park City are bagging groceries, she said.
"I want to be a liaison to create relationships and break down stereotypes," she said.
According to chamber director Patricia Quijano Dark, Hispanic shoppers tend to be particular, but also become very loyal customers. Chamber networking creates a forum where businesses that have been successful building a Hispanic customer base can share their strategies with others, she said.
For more information on the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, visit http://www.utahhcc.com.