The chamber held an event Tuesday to celebrate its reestablishment in Utah County and to announce an agreement with Mountainland Technical College to hold business academy classes and other events at its Provo Campus.
Industrial engineer Javier Botello will act as the chamber's representative in Utah County. Botello moved to Vineyard six months ago from Guadalajara, Mexico, and brings decades of experience in business coaching, senior management and finance. After joining the chamber and having to drive out of the county for networking and other events, he saw the need for regular chamber operations in Utah County.
"For business owners, it's not very convenient to say, 'I'm going to join the chamber but I have to travel far away for a training course, a conference, a networking event.' So I think the reopening is worth it," he said in Spanish. "I'm excited to participate in this work."
Chamber executive director Juan Pascua said he's proud of what the chamber has accomplished thus far and hopes the chamber is useful for the 25,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the state. Future goals include opening an office in St. George.
"It's a sense of satisfaction seeing what we've accomplished step by step. It's a long road, and we still have a lot of work to do," he said. "There have been many times where I've thought 'I can't do this,' but something inside me said, 'Keep going to the next step.'"
Lynn Adams, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Mountainland Technical College, said the new agreement is a continuation of the chamber and college's pre-pandemic collaboration. He hopes the new space for the chamber will be welcoming for Hispanic students and the broader Latino community. The college's student population is about 17% Hispanic or Latino.
"We just enjoyed the idea of being a resource for our community, particularly the Hispanic community. We know that there's a presence here in Utah County. We know that there's an opportunity to build an alliance and to build a trust between this community and education in general," Adams said. "Whether they're coming in for their operations with the chamber or if they want to come in and be students with us, we want to make sure that this is a place that is inclusive of Hispanic students."
Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Curtis Blair called the chamber's decision to reopen in Utah County a "hallmark event."
"The importance of the Hispanic Chamber in the business community in Utah County cannot be overstated," he said. "Many of our businesses lean heavily on the thoughts, leadership, contributions and labor force from our Latinx community. When they see us leading out with a partnership like this at the highest levels, it has a trickle-down effect that shows that we care, that we're interested in the success of everyone and that everyone belongs."