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Hispanic business expansion nationwide the message at Cafe Con Leche – Ann Clanton

by Ann Clanton, “Speak-Up” contributing writer

Leroy Cavazos, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Government Affairs delivered a message to the Rhode Island and Hispanic Small Business community, during his visit to Rhode Island last week.

Hispanic businesses are the fastest-growing segment of U.S. small businesses, up 34% in the last 10 years. Statistics like that were at the core of the message of Chamber Vice President Cavazos, at the Hispanic Chambers annual Cafe con Leche Breakfast held at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Friday.

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner led the lineup of Cafe Con Leche Breakfast speakers praising the Hispanic owned businesses for their resilience during COVID-19, and for taking the lead in vaccinating the Latin community.

Among the growing list of 2022 gubernatorial candidates, Governor McKee and General Treasurer Magaziner both stated that providing financial resources to BiPOC owned companies should be a top priority. “We are committed to supporting this expanding and important minority-owned business segment of the state’s business sector that was especially hard hit by the pandemic, said Governor McKee.

Praise of positive news regarding the business community continued with Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce, Stephan Pryor, announcing that the state had the strongest rebound in New England among its minority-owned businesses.

The newly established Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC) led a diverse group of Cafe Con Leche Breakfast sponsors. The Papitto Opportunity Connection Foundation’s Executive Director, John Tarantino used the breakfast event to announce the Transform Rhode Island Scholarship to assist BIPOC students to get past the financial obstacles of higher education, affordable housing and access to healthcare services while also empowering them to create change in their communities. The top three entries will receive a one-time award, and the Papitto Opportunity Connection will invest $1,000,000 as part of this initiative.

An overarching message throughout Cafe Con Leche was having resilience, whether it’s in the face of financial obstacles or COVID19. The Cafe Con Leche Breakfast is an annual event to remind the state of the resilience of the Rhode Island’s Hispanic community. Incorporated in May of 2016, the Chamber’s mission is to support the needs of local businesses and build strong relationships between corporate America and the Hispanic-owned businesses in Rhode Island.


About the RI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The RI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce  is an organization created to represent, promote and empower our growing Hispanic business community.  Incorporated, under Chapter 7-6, of the General Laws of Rhode Island, on May 19, 2016, this organization strives to support the needs of local businesses and build strong relationships between corporate America and the Hispanic-owned businesses in Rhode Island.


The specific purposes for which the RI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is organized are:

  1. To represent businesses, entrepreneurs and institutions committed to the economic development and success of the Hispanic business community.
  2. All other activities consistent with the laws of the state of Rhode Island.

For more information on the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce call 400-1340 or email


About the Papitto Opportunity Connection

The Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC) is a non-profit private foundation dedicated to listening and working together with Rhode Island’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to empower and create individual success stories by investing in education, job skills training and entrepreneurial ventures.

Rhode Island is a state of 1-million people, and because of our size, we have a unique opportunity to accomplish our goals through aggressively funding unique and sometimes out-of-the-box programs designed to change the narrative of the Ocean State’s BIPOC communities.  Operating on a model of trust-based philanthropy, we are constantly learning based upon active participation and engagement.

Making connections, eliminating barriers to success, and clearing pathways to learning are the guiding lights behind every investment POC makes. To truly matter, make an impact, and help create systemic change, the programs we support are those most needed and wanted by Rhode Island’s BIPOC communities. 

Founded in December 2020, the Papitto Opportunity Connection was formed by Barbara Papitto as a continuation of the long-time commitment she and her late-husband Ralph have made to creating educational opportunities and supporting children impacted by systemic racial injustice in Rhode Island.  Learn more about Ralph and Barbara here.

Our Board of Advisors consists entirely of people from across Rhode Island’s BIPOC communities including those who identify as African-heritage, Indigenous, Southeast Asian, Southern Asian, and Latino.  Members of the Board of Advisors meet monthly with the POC Trustees to provide insight and guidance into the issues and challenges facing the BIPOC communities in the Ocean State and to approve programmatic funding requests. 


Ann-Allison Clanton was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. As principle of Ann Clanton Communications, Ann has more than two decades of experience as a communications and public affairs consultant. She has written features and profiles articles for the Providence American Newspaper and Ethnic Online Magazine.

Among the notable persons interviewed include former U. S. Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Cornell West, former Florida Congressman Allen West (R-FL) and Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus first African American Ringmaster, Johnathan Lee Iverson.

Ann is the founder of the Rhode Island Black Film Festival and a founding member of the Southern New England Association of Black Journalists.

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