The program could deliver as much as $7 million to local chambers over the life of the program. "The referral fee is returned to the referring chamber as a percentage of each loan, line of credit, or lease that is booked in the program," according to the USHCC.
"People say, 'What's the value of our membership? We need money,'" Mr. Gonzales summarizes. "We can't give them money, but we will give them this program and training. A lot of the issues people have complained about at the USHCC, this staff and this board have addressed. I think we're looking at a whole new chamber."
Two other USHCC initiatives for 2003–2004 involve technology and political elections. On the tech front, Mr. Gonzales wants to get member chambers up to speed on software and connectivity to create a platform for future networking and procurement programs. He also thinks local chambers should sponsor voter registration drives. "We aren't going to advocate partisan politics, but the Hispanic vote is becoming a power, and we need to leverage that power in the business community," he says.
Financially, next year will also include keeping watch on Hispanics Today, the weekly television show produced by the USHCC. "At this point, the plan is for the TV show to continue," says Mr. Gonzales. "It is actually generating revenue now. … So the TV show is going to stay on schedule, [but] we are constantly reviewing that as long as the show stays profitable." According to sources, some members of the USHCC board want to end the show, but have agreed to let it continue as long as it shows a net profit.
Beyond the coming year, the USHCC is poised to take a more active role on procurement and supplier development. In the same election that made Mr. Gonzales chairman for a second year, the board elected Tina Cordova as vice-chair. By tradition, the vice-chair assumes the chairmanship when the current chair retires.
"My focus is on federal procurement," says Ms. Cordova, CEO of New Mexico–based Queston Construction. "The federal government is not meeting its goals with the minority and Hispanic supplier community, and since [the government] is the biggest buyer in the country, it makes sense for the chamber to address this issue."
Despite her reservations about the organization, Ms. Gonzalez gives the new USHCC leadership high marks for improving communication, and she attended the Phoenix convention with several of her board members. "It's the one and only opportunity nationwide to connect with chambers like us," she says.
|THE NEW USHCC BOARD|
|The vote in Phoenix produced a turnover of five members of the chamber's board. New members are indicated with an asterisk (*).|
|REGION 1 (AK, CA, HI, ID, NV, OR, WA)
|REGION 4 (IL, IN, IA, KY, MI, MN,
|REGION 2 (AZ, CO, NM, MT, ND, NE, SD, UT, WY)
Tina Cordova – Vice-chair
|REGION 5 (CT, DE, DC, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV)
Esperanza Porras Field
|REGION 3 (AR, KS, LA, MO, OK, TX)
J.R. Gonzales – Chairman
Maria Guadalupe Taxman
|REGION 6 (AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, PR, SC, TN)
Enid Toro de Baez*