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By Ann Allison Clanton, contributing writer
Rhode Island’s Hispanic Business community paid tribute to elected leaders and their 800-plus members thriving, despite the Pandemic, at their 4th annual Cafe Con Leche Breakfast held last Friday at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
Amica Mutual Insurance, Bank Newport, Bank of America and Berkshire Bank were among a bevy of Rhode Island’s corporate class showing their support by sponsoring the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s signature year end Café con Leche Breakfast followed by a Business Expo.
Rhode Island Statewide and municipal leaders remarked on the Chamber’s influence and the resilience of its members. “This is the future of Rhode Island’s Economy, exclaimed outgoing Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, a longtime advocate for Rhode Island small businesses.
Pawtucket and Central Falls Mayors, Donald Grebien and Maria Rivera, respectively, remarked on their gratitude as partners to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
An unlikely partner and ally to the Chamber is Meron Reuben, the Consul General of Israel to New England. In this, his second visit to the breakfast, he explained (in Spanish to thunderous applause) how he met Mr. Mejias and served in various positions at the Israeli embassies in Chile and Mexico, and as Ambassador to Paraguay, Bolivia and Colombia.
While there was much praise and accolades for the Hispanic Chamber, keynote Speaker Don Cravins, Jr. laid out the realities of most minority owned businesses in America. “We have a lot of work to do,” stated the first Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development.
The Louisiana native and Biden Administration appointee also made it clear that “help is on the way” with a $100 million earmarked for minority businesses.
Once a temporary agency, the Minority Business Development office is now permanent which means that equitable access to capital for black and brown businesses may not be far behind.
Under Secretary Cravin’s message that MBDE is here to stay and Rhode Island’s Hispanic and other minority businesses will be hearing and or seeing him more in 2023.
Ann-Allison Clanton was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. As principal 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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