Written by Arkansas Real Estate
This week we had the opportunity to chat with Geovanny Sarmiento, Vice President of Minority Business Development with the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. Geovanny helps lead the the only Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Economic Development program in our region. We are grateful for his time in chatting with us, and all the amazing things he does to help increase business in our community.
How would you define your role at the Chamber?
I help minority owned businesses and entrepreneurs take advantage of everything the Chamber has to offer. My role has become increasingly important because the growing cultural diversity in Northwest Arkansas. Just in Rogers alone Latinos have reached 31% of the total population according to the 2010 census. Many minority businesses have been established and more are opening their doors every day. These businesses contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of our region. It is important for us to support this new wave of entrepreneurs and existing minority businesses in their venture. We connect them to each other and encourage involvement in the Chamber and our community.
What services do you offer to minority businesses?
The Chamber offers a wealth of services, some of the most popular programs are:
We have established a mentorship program to connect experienced business professionals with minority businesses owners. The mentor’s experience and guidance is invaluable.
We also created a seminar series that provides business fundamentals and strategy training as well as up-to-date information on regulation and compliance requirements.
Additionally we provide specialized assistance for business planning, registrations, licensing, permits and regulations.
We also have multicultural networking opportunities and our information is available in both English and Spanish.
What progress/success have you seen over the last year in minority business development?
The minority business leaders are becoming more involved in the community and we are proud of the support our membership has provided to our minority efforts as well as the support from our minority businesses. This year a Hispanic male, Julio Rodriguez, receive the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual “Volunteer of the Year” award in recognition of his efforts helping the community. Additionally a Latino family received the annual “Small Business of the Year” award for their outstanding service to the community and their successful restaurant “Sabores Mexican Cuisine”.
Thanks to the support of the minority business leaders, we have been able to increase our minority membership by 40% this year.
With the shifting demographics in Rogers and Northwest Arkansas how do you see this effecting economic development in the coming years?
Northwest Arkansas is privileged to have many successful large, medium and small companies doing business here. The economic impact of these companies has contributed to the cultural and economic diversity in NWA. It has made our region a great place to live, work and play and many people from all over the world are attracted by this wealth of opportunities.
We have a large Latino and Asian population in NWA. The rapid growth of this two minorities group’s buying power in the nation, expected to be close to $3 trillion - 50% increase – in the next five years, has made American businesses recognize the need for a different approach reaching out to these new consumers and making this segments a priority for growth. They are adjusting their marketing efforts and are proactively learning what is important to these new groups. Understanding how cultural and ethnic differences affect decision-making is now vital.