National convention selects Salt Lake City for 2014 event

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jun 19, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- It’s a major milestone for Utah's Hispanic Community: For the first time, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention is coming to Salt Lake City.

It's been decades in the making, but you may be wondering: Why Utah?

"Part of the reason we picked Salt Lake City for the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders in the nation is that Utah has done a phenomenal job of spurring job growth, ensuring that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well," said Javier Palomarez, who is the President of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

He said Hispanics make up more than 15 percent of Utah's population and it's grown more than 80 percent in the last decade.

"Utah gets short shifted often times,” Palomarez said. “When you think of Utah you don't necessarily think of the most diverse community in America, but diversity should not be looked at in the color of your skin but how you feel up here, diversity of thought and heart and when you look at diversity in that context, Utah stands above all others.”

The 2014 USHCC National Convention is expected to attract the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders in the country, about 6,000.

"It's amazing. It's incredible. It's a wonderful opportunity to showcase the benefit that Hispanic businesses provide to our communities as a whole," said Utah Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck.

"It says that we're a city on the rise. That we are becoming a community and a nation that is even more diverse," said former Utah Lawmaker Ross Romero.

Officials with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said Utah has some notable business leaders who have put the community on the map, like Don Salazar, who is the founder of a local construction company named CTI.

"He's been a phenomenal advocate for not only Hispanic businesses but all American businesses on our board of directors," Palomarez said.

With the convention coming to Salt Lake City, that means all eyes are on the Beehive State.

"We're one of the best kept secrets in this region. A lot of people don't realize the strength of the enterprises that exist here," Chavez-Houck said.

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said Hispanic-owned businesses contribute more than $468 billion a year to the country's economy and tens of millions to Utah's economy.

The USHCC Convention will be September 21-23 at the Grand America Hotel.