After past differences, Reno/Sparks and Latino business chambers merge | nnbusinessview.com

After past differences, Reno/Sparks and Latino business chambers merge

Claire Cudahy
ccudahy@swiftcom.com

The Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce and the Latin American Chamber of Business announced their merger on June 26. From left: Taylor Russo, Luis Jacquez, Ann Silver, Andres Garcia, Emma Guzman, Felipe Estrada, Silvia Diaz and Angela Medina.

RENO, Nev. — Over the last decade, the chambers serving Reno-Sparks have had their differences.

But this summer, a merger of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce and the Latin American Chamber of Business has brought the business community together under one roof again.

"We felt that it was a good opportunity for us to grow alongside the Reno + Sparks Chamber," Latin American Chamber of Business Treasurer Emma Guzman said in an early July interview with the Northern Nevada Business View. "They came to us and proposed the opportunity, and after talking to them and seeing their views and goals, I think it will benefit both chambers."

The two chambers announced the impending merger on June 26 in a press release.

Guzman estimates the Latin American Chamber of Business has around 50 members.

A member of the existing Latin American Chamber will be nominated to sit with the board of the Reno + Sparks Chamber and work with a committee that seeks to specifically promote Latino businesses and events.

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It's a framework of inclusion that Latino-owned businesses did not feel was there previously.

Back in 2008, the Northern Nevada Hispanic Chamber of Commerce merged with the Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Four years later, the combined chamber joined forces with the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

However, in 2013, after the chamber eliminated the satellite office on Wells Avenue serving Hispanic members, in addition to a monthly special committee meeting representing those members, Andres Gonzalez and Carol Garcia decided to leave and form the Latin American Chamber of Business, Gonzalez said.

"We just weren't happy with how it was going," Gonzalez told the NNBV.

But Ann Silver, chief executive officer of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce, felt that the two chambers could be stronger together.

"This all got started because I spoke with Chuy (Gutierrez) from Chuy's Mexican Restaurant, who talked to me about the members of the Latino business community and why they had not felt previously welcomed by the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce," Silver told the NNBV. "I did what I could to sincerely communicate the interest the chamber has in being inclusive and representative of all businesses in this community and how important it is to collaborate and work together."

Gonzalez said it was Silver's positive attitude that convinced the Latin America Chamber members to once again rejoin the larger chamber.

"I don't see any signs that things will go back to what they were before," said Gonzalez.

Silver said she is "thrilled" with the merger and the new "united front for pro-business and pro-free enterprise."

"This chamber should represent businesses of all backgrounds, races, creeds, colors," added Silver. "The strengthening of the business voice is what I'm concerned about and not cannibalizing it with so many different voices, which really all have the same objectives which is to promote economic vitality in this community."

Go to thechambernv.org to learn more about the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.