Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros tops a list of speakers who will address the annual convention of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, which gets under way today in Oxnard.
Cisneros, 42, who became the first Latino elected mayor of a major U.S. city in 1983 and was considered by Walter Mondale as a vice presidential running mate in 1984, is the guest speaker Friday morning at opening ceremonies.
Though Cisneros declined to seek reelection to a fourth term after the revelation last year that he was having an extramarital affair, the convention's organizers nonetheless feel fortunate to have booked him, said Paul Magallanes, the convention chairman.
"He still is a very influential person in the Hispanic community nationwide," Magallanes said of Cisneros, who has run a financial management company in San Antonio since June. "Not only is he dynamic, he's a leader."
Organizers hope a lineup of speakers for the four-day event, being held at the Mandalay Beach Resort and Hotel, will prove just as stimulating. They include a Cuban-born radio mogul and one of the few women in the upper echelons of food processing.
Topics range from such Latino concerns as the prospect of establishing a Latino business lobby in Washington to problems that face any operator of a small business--raising capital, marketing on a shoestring, maximizing employee productivity.
But the conference, which is open to the public, is not all business. An evening of entertainment slated for Saturday includes such up-and-coming Latino performers as George Lopez, a San Fernando Valley comedian who has been compared to Eddie Murphy.
The convention, coming after two years of organizing by 50 volunteers and 40 corporate sponsors, is the largest achievement to date of the Oxnard-based Mexican American Chamber of Commerce of Ventura County, formed 13 years ago to promote business opportunities for Latinos.
3,000 Expected to Attend
It is expected to attract more than 3,000 business owners, political leaders and consumers. Most are from California, but the conference is expected to draw business owners and policy makers from Texas, Washington, Baja California and even Spain, Magallanes said.
Organizers hope that a roster of nine speeches and workshops will help attendees see how they can take part in the prosperity recently enjoyed by many Latino businesses.
According to a study by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, gross revenues of firms run by Latinos have nearly doubled in the last decade, from $10.4 billion in 1977 to $20 billion in 1987. Over the same period, the number of such firms has also increased. Between 1977 and 1987, the number of Latino businesses grew from 219,000 to 340,000.
"Hispanic businesses are growing not just in California but all across the United States," said Magallanes, a retired FBI agent who lives in Ventura. "They're something to be reckoned with."
Activities begin today with an opening reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and conclude Sunday morning with a golf tournament. Cisneros is to speak Friday at 9:30 a.m. in front of the hotel.
Laura Balvedere-Sanchez, 39, a former teacher and personnel director who has turned the once-bankrupt El Rey Sausage Company into an expanding business as its president and co-owner, will participate Saturday morning in a panel discussion titled "Successful Women Share Their Business Secrets."
Dubbed the "Chorizo Queen," Sanchez was named 1987 Small Business Person of the Year by the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Benjamin Aranda, a Municipal Court judge in Torrance and chairman of the board of Blue Cross of California, is the keynote speaker at a noon luncheon Saturday.
Aranda, 59, became the first Latino to sit on the board of directors of a major U.S. corporation when he joined the Blue Cross board in 1981.
Raul Alarcon Jr., 33, a radio mogul who lives in New York, will deliver the keynote address at Saturday's 7:30 p.m. dinner. In the last six years, he built a single New York City radio station into the six-station Spanish Broadcasting System, the largest Latino radio company in the U.S.-Spanish Broadcasting System.
Other speakers include U.S. Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park), who will address "Imminent Legislative Issues Facing Hispanic Business" on Friday morning.
Martinez, 60, as chairman of the employment opportunity subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee, has sponsored legislation aimed at helping the poor and those who do not speak English.