Hudson County, New Jersey.
On April 28th, diplomatic delegations, representatives from different chambers of commerce, other professionals, and business and community leaders from New Jersey and New York took part in the swearing-in ceremony for the president and executive director, as well her board of directors presiding over the Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce (HCLACC). The institution was created to defend and promote the interests of business owners, professionals, organizations and corporations in Hudson County, which is just one county of New Jersey’s 21 counties, and the surrounding areas that target and serve the Latin American market.
The swearing-in ceremony and official launch of the Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce (HCLACC) took place at the Chart House in Weehawken Township. Sandra Harris, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) presided over the ceremonies. The opening remarks were given by Alexandra Madera, member of the HCLACC board of directors and who brings wide range of experience in the United States Army, as well as in acting, radio and television.
This was followed by the swearing-in of Honorable Judge Lauren Olivieri, native of Hudson County, and current Weehawken Municipal Judge with a 26-year track record in the New Jersey criminal justice system. The president and executive director of HCLACC, the Peruvian American businesswoman and journalist specialized in foreign trade, Heidi Castrillón, swore in accompanied by her board of directors Olga Rodríguez, Raquel Reátegui, Magaly Gazo, Eric Estevez, John Sánchez, Alexandra Madera, Félix Flores Jr., Oriana Reátegui, Heidy Hernández and Janet Pagan, all of whom are outstanding professionals and entrepreneurs of Latin origin.
Senator Menendez: HCLACC will strengthen commerce in Hudson County
Through a letter, Senator Robert Menendez highlighted that the work that will be done by the Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce to “promote and support Latin business is vital to strengthening business in general in Hudson County. Congratulations on creating this important new institution for Latino businesses in Hudson County.”
“Organizations like yours are critical to improving local economies by spurring job creation and furthering the economic prosperity of our State of New Jersey. I wish you and your members great success in this exciting new endeavor,” said Menendez. “As your United States Senator and the highest-ranking Latino in the United States Congress, I extend my best wishes for a long-lasting, productive, and successful presence in Hudson County and the State of New Jersey.”
Governor Murphy: HCLACC will facilitate mutually beneficial ties
Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, expressed through a letter that the Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce (HCLACC) “represents the needs of Latin American companies in the residential communities of Hudson County.” “With Latino families making up more than 42% of Hudson County’s population, it is vital that Latino families have access to businesses that represent their rich history and culture,” said Murphy.
“By establishing business partnerships with community leaders and other chambers of commerce, HCLACC will successfully facilitate mutually beneficial ties between the public and private sectors. Congratulations to the first president and CEO and first board of directors of the HCLACC. Best wishes on a memorable event and continued success in all your future endeavors,” added Governor Murphy.
Diplomatic and consular representatives
The ceremony was attended by Minister Luis Felipe Ugarelli, Deputy Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations; Jorge Islas López, Consul General of Mexico in New York; Leonardo de Almeida Carneiro Enge, Deputy Consul General for Trade Promotion of the Consulate General of Brazil in New York; Ariel Valle Montes, Consul General of El Salvador in Elizabeth, New Jersey; Gabriela Morales Chicó, Commercial, Investment and Tourism Counselor of the Consulate General of Guatemala in New York; María Fernanda Garrido Martín, Consul for Economic-Commercial Affairs, Promotion and Technical-Scientific Cooperation of the Consulate General of Mexico in New York.
Jorge Islas López, Consul General of Mexico in New York, said he was sure that this new chamber of commerce “will contribute to bringing the Latin American community of New Jersey and Hudson County to fairer trade, better business opportunities and the creation of new jobs for the well-being of New Jersey.”
“I believe that Hudson County has the key elements to unite our communities for a better future and I am confident that this important business organization will offer these opportunities for the benefit of the Latin American diaspora in the Garden State,” added Islas López, an expert in Constitutional Law with a Master of Laws from Columbia University in New York City.
Ariel Valle Montes, Consul General of El Salvador in Elizabeth, New Jersey, congratulated Heidi Castrillón on her appointment as president and CEO of HCLACC, expressing that with her work and career “she has earned public recognition as a true leader of the Latino community.”, for whom he mentioned many successes, as well as for her board of directors. The Salvadoran Consul highlighted the work that the Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce will carry out which, in his point of view, will be representative and will look after “the interests of the Hispanic population”; will become “a relevant platform for the economic development and growth of the United States”.
“The influence of our community continues to position and strengthen itself throughout New Jersey in areas of great relevance, so we are sure that its management will be key to further promoting the ventures and business projects of Latin Americans in this locality”, Valle Montes told the president of HCLACC.
The representative of the Government of El Salvador expressed his interest in “strengthening the ties of friendship and collaboration” with the Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce, “with the purpose of jointly promoting initiatives that are of benefit to the Salvadoran and Latino population in general, as well as from our countries of origin.”
“We want businesses to grow and multiply”
During her speech, Heidi Castrillón, president and CEO of HCLACC, welcomed the appointment of businesswomen Angiolina Galluccio, Tania Torres, Geovana Villacres, Sheetal Sawhney and Marita Lynn as heads, respectively, of International Affairs, Beauty and Styling, Hospitality and Tourism, Housing and Mortgages, and Food and Beverages Committees from the Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce.
“The Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce was established with the purpose not to compete, but to collaborate with all local and national chambers of commerce and organizations that, for many years, have worked and are committed to the development of small Latino-owned businesses. The objective of the HCLACC is to join forces and capabilities to multiply the chances of success of small Latino businesses in New Jersey and in Hudson County, a jurisdiction that has 12 municipalities and about 42.7% of its population is of Latino or Hispanic origin,” she said.
“We are not only looking for businesses to continue, but we want them to grow, multiply, partner, and become large business consortiums and become global. Along these lines, we also want our associates to build business bridges with their countries of origin. We are going to help them capitalize on and promote this type of initiative through coordination at the institutional level with other Latin American chambers of commerce, as well as with government representatives for rapid and efficient action that benefits everyone. We must participate more actively in foreign trade between the United States and the Caribbean and Latin American countries,” added the president and executive director of HCLACC.
Personalities from the business world
Also in attendance were representatives from the Indian American International Chamber of Commerce (IAICC) based in Washington, D.C., as well as Esperanza Porras-Field and Ralph Tejeda, President Emeritus and Chairman of the Board of Directors, respectively, of the Morris County Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce (MCHACC). Also attending were John Sánchez, president of the Essex County Latin-American Chamber of Commerce (ECLACC); and members of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ), an institution dating back to 1999 that mobilizes and empowers Latino communities to obtain political, economic, and social equity, as well as unifying organizations and individuals in defending the rights of Latinos throughout the state of New Jersey.
Directors of the Meadowlands Chamber and North Jersey Chamber of Commerce also attended, as well as Charito Cisneros, member of the Board of Directors and coordinator of International Public Relations of Fuerza Migrante, a non-profit organization that works for the economic, political and social empowerment of Mexican immigrants in the United States. Cisneros, who is also president and founder of the New York Hispanic Cosmetology & Beauty Chamber of Commerce, will contribute her talent and experience as a member of the advisory board of the HCLACC Beauty and Styling Committee.
Other invited personalities included Vincent Vicari, Regional Director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC), a network that provides comprehensive assistance to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) to maximize growth opportunities and generate economic impact throughout the State of New Jersey; Celin J. Valdivia, Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation and Director of Transportation for the Union City Board of Education; and Wendy A. Grullon, Commissioner of the Union City Department of Public Works.
More than 309,000 Latinos in Hudson County
It should be noted that Latinos or Hispanics are no longer just on the coasts and the Southwest, but everywhere, mobilizing and taking root throughout the United States of America; attracted by job and economic opportunities, but mainly driven by their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to get ahead. They are now scattered, to a greater or lesser extent, in all the country’s 50 states and 3,140 counties.
According to the Census Bureau, the growth of the Latino community in Hudson County was 26% from 1980-1990; 32% from 1990-2000; 11% from 2000-2010; and 9% from 2010-2020. The Hudson County Latin American Chamber of Commerce (HCLACC) has the great challenge of supporting the endeavors and aspirations of more than 309,000 Latinos or Hispanics living in Hudson County.