The Metro-Savannah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will hold its second annual gala and awards banquet Oct. 29 at the DeSoto Hilton, where Savannah’s new city manager, Rob Hernandez, will be the keynote speaker.
“Rob is a Cuban who was raised in New York City. He’s fluent in Spanish and has a proven track record in government,” said founder, CEO and president of the Hispanic Chamber Alfonso Ribot. “We invited him to speak at the gala because he will inspire a lot of Hispanics. He demonstrates that you too can become the premiere government official in a non-Hispanic community. Rob represents hope.”
The Metro-Savannah area has more than 365,000 residents and nearly 10 percent of those residents identify as Hispanic.
Founded two years ago, the Hispanic Chamber’s mission is to provide leadership and support the economic development of the Hispanic business community in the Metro-Savannah area.
The chamber’s goals are to educate and train local Hispanic business owners, inspiring these business owners to be more productive.
“One of Hernandez’s priorities as City Manager is to make Savannah inclusive of all ethnicities and backgrounds,” Ribot said.
The Hispanic Chamber’s gala will highlight and recognize Hispanic-owned businesses, entrepreneurs and members of the chamber, who are both Hispanics and non-Hispanics who have contributed to Hispanic culture in Chatham, Effingham, Bryan and Liberty counties.
Ribot also explained that several consuls from around the world will speak at the gala. This includes consuls from Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica. “This will give Savannah locals a chance to ask questions and mingle with international dignitaries and politicians,” said Ribot.
With more than 1,500 Hispanic-owned business in the Georgia Coastal area, the Hispanic Chamber was founded because there were “a lot of Hispanic business owners who didn’t want to associate with the Savannah Chamber of Commerce because they didn’t feel it spoke to their needs, both literally and figuratively,” said Ribot.
“They want to speak their own language; we like to do business in the language that we know,” said Ribot. “The Hispanic community as a whole likes to tell it like it is. If you don’t listen, then you’re not respecting them; that’s a cultural thing. For instance, Hispanics wouldn’t get loans because their broken language was interpreted as not knowing what they’re doing.”
When the chamber was founded, there were 23 members. Now in the chamber’s second year, it has 132 members.
The gala and banquet will be conducted in English.
Tickets are $45 for members, $60 for non-members, and $75 for VIP. Tables also are available. To register, go to www.msavhcc.org/events.