Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and County Chamber of Commerce President Keith Scott on Wednesday welcomed the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to downtown Towson.
"This is a great opportunity for our community and our members," Jose Rivas, president of Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said. "This is going to be the first step of many to help our community in Baltimore County."
The Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which was formed in 2001, will occupy space in the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce office at 102 W. Pennsylvania Ave. in downtown Towson. Members of the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber, the Baltimore County Chamber, and Councilwoman Vicki Almond, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
Rivas said the move has been discussed for the last 18 months.
"It's been our vision for quite some time to be here," he said. "This is a great place; a lot of synergy, a lot of good energy."
Kamenetz said that the county would soon begin to offer Spanish language entrepreneurial classes, a feature Rivas said would be the first of its kind in the area. Rivas also said the members look forward to working closely with the Baltimore County Small Business Resource Center, which is also located in the chamber's offices.
"This is such a great opportunity to bring together Jose and Keith Scott and both chambers, and a great marketing opportunity," Kamenetz said.
In his remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony, Kamenetz said 4.4-percent of the county residents are Hispanic, according to the 2010 US Census. Kamenetz also cited figures from the state of Maryland that said Hispanic-owned businesses in the state have nearly doubled in the last two years, from 21,000 to nearly 40,000.
"This new relationship that we can have here, on behalf of all communities, is very helpful," Kamenetz said.
Scott said it "has been a dream" of his to see the county chamber come alive with new energy and ideas like the ones the Hispanic chamber will bring.
"The most successful companies are the ones that integrate diversity and the diversity of thought," he said.