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L.A. Nabs 2002 Latino Business Gathering

May 16, 2000|Stephen Gregory

The Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau successfully underbid Las Vegas to host the nation's largest Latino business gathering in 2002. As many as 10,000 are expected for the four-day fall gathering at the Convention Center, which marks the first time in 15 years that the annual U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event will be held in the capital of Latino business. Nearly one of every four Latino businesses nationwide is in Los Angeles County, according to Commerce Department statistics. The Washington-based organization comprises 200 Latino regional and city chambers and lobbies on behalf of nearly 2 million Latino business owners. Hector Barreto, an East Los Angeles financial services broker and member of the U.S. chamber's board, predicted that the convention would be a boon to the region's service industry and to local Latino businesses. He said attendees will have the opportunity to network with Latino business owners from across the country and representatives from venture capital funds, lenders and dozens of Fortune 500 companies that are corporate partners with the organization.

Barreto said the convention bureau undercut Las Vegas' bid by 50% in facility costs. The 2002 convention had been scheduled for Hawaii, but planners there decided to pull out in March, Barreto said, because corporate sponsorship was lacking. The chamber then planned to tap Las Vegas, the runner-up in last year's bidding process for the convention, but Barreto said he persuaded board members to reopen the bidding process to allow third-place finisher Los Angeles to revise its proposal. New bids from both cities were submitted by mid-April. On Friday, the chamber's 23-member board voted unanimously to award L.A. the convention, Barreto said. The votes were faxed to the group's Washington headquarters and tabulated Monday. Chamber President George Herrera could not be reached for comment. George Kirkland, president of the convention bureau, said his organization "did everything we could" to lure the convention to Los Angeles in hopes it will be a frequent return visitor.

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