Ventura County’s lead universities are taking a close look at developing a new business program to educate a new generation of Hispanic entrepreneurs.
The outreach effort got off to a strong start on Jan. 13 when California Lutheran University’s School of Business Dean Chuck Maxey hosted a presentation by Santiago Ibarreche, head of the Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at El Paso, or UTEP.
Ibarreche’s talk on the development of his center focused on the need to develop strong relations with local Hispanic leaders, policy makers, economic development types and, yes, even the media.
“We’re putting entrepreneurship on the front burner,” said Maxey, who indicated that CLU will be expanding course offerings aimed at arts and sciences majors, at social entrepreneurship and at the Hispanic community.
The talk by Ibbareche program struck a responsive chord with a large contingent from California State University, Channel Islands, whose own programs already have a strong entrepreneurship bent. The UTEP program focuses on a couple of areas of interest to the Tri-Counties, notably:
• Family business programs. From Urquidez Contstruction in Santa Ynez to Familia Diaz in Santa Paula, many of our most successful Hispanic-owned companies are also family-owned.
• Oral history. Let’s not forget that prior to the mid-1800s, every business in the Tri-Counties was a Hispanic business. Going back to the Spanish land grants, we have a rich heritage that is worth preserving and that still defines a lot of the culture of business in the Tri-Counties.
• Leveraging chamber of commerce relationships. We have two active Hispanic chambers and several successful Hispanic business groups within others. It should be a snap to get these organizations involved.
Having California Lutheran University, perhaps in partnership with California State University, Channel Islands, lead the way in creating new programs for Hispanic entrepreneurs is a great way to start off the New Year. Their efforts are worthwhile and should be replicated throughout the Tri-Counties, as outreach promises big dividends for the regional economy down the road.
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