As the new leader of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Mark Martinez is putting the organization in a position to be one of the most influential Hispanic business groups in the country.
Since being named President and CEO in late October, Martinez has led a rebranding of the organization, coordinated its first business summit, and formed a partnership with UC Berkeley’s business school to study the needs of Hispanic businesses throughout the state.
“We want to be known as the premiere Hispanic business organization in the U.S,” Martinez said.
In just a few months on the job, Martinez is ahead of schedule in his long term plan to help Latino-owned small businesses recover from a relentless recession. Perhaps the most visible of his initiatives is the organization’s First Annual Economic Summit. The event will be Thursday, March 14 at the Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J Street. The summit is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and cost $75 per person.
Sponsored by Wells Fargo, the Economic Summit will feature Assembly member Jose Medina of Riverside, chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, and Eugenio J. Aleman, Director and Senior Economist of Wells Fargo Securities, among numerous other speakers.
“The mission of the Economic Summit is to determine how businesses, government, labor, and higher education can work together to create sustainable jobs for California,” Martinez said. “Latino businesses will play a vital role in job creation for California’s future.”
In August, the state chamber plans to unveil a major study of the current state of Hispanic businesses throughout California conducted by UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The results will be unveiled during the chamber’s annual convention.
The results of the study will help determine what resources are needed to help Latino-owned businesses grow and what parts of the state to direct those resources to be most effective.
“We believe the study will provide findings and information about the needs of our communities across California,” Martinez said.
Both the economic summit and study are part of four key initiatives Martinez has planned for the state chamber. Those core efforts involve strengthening relationships with Latino state legislatures, increasing business opportunities for Latino owners, expanding training programs, and engaging in workforce development.
The state chamber is also in the midst of rebranding itself. The organization is in the process of developing a new logo, launching a new website, and bolstering its social media presence. It also has plans to move into new office space in downtown Sacramento to accommodate more staff.
The impact of the organization’s efforts could be substantial for the state’s economic recovery overall. Hispanic businesses make up one of the fastest growing business segments in the state and provide a substantial amount of jobs, he said.
“We are an important segment for California’s current and future economy,” Martinez said. “We’re a segment that employs a lot of people.”
Formed in 1978, the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce’s central purpose is to promote and support economic development of Hispanic and minority owned businesses and entrepreneurs. The organization has a network of more than 65 Hispanic chambers and business associations throughout the state, consisting of more than 700,000 businesses.
As President and CEO, Martinez oversees the direction and resources of one of the country’s largest regional business networks. He replaced Julian Canete, who left the CHCC for a similar role with the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce.
“Although we are sad to see Julian move on, we are excited to bring Mark on at a crucial time for the CHCC,” said Ernie Gutierrez, chair of the CHCC board shortly after making the announcement. “He has taken a small chamber of commerce and turned it into one of the most respected organizations in the state. He has a wealth of experience in the business community as well as an intimate knowledge of the CHCC as a former Board of Director.”
Before leading the state Hispanic chamber, Martinez served as CEO of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce from 2004 to 2012 and as board president from 2002-2004. During his tenure, the chamber developed a number of initiatives, including the Annual Student Financial Aid and College Awareness Workshop, the Small Business Strategic Plan Initiative, the Annual Business Forecast Conference, and the Bilingual Start-up Business Workshops.
For his efforts, he was awarded the Chamber Executive of the Year by the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. It was one of many awards he has received throughout his career. Others included: The 2009 Northern California U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minority Business Champion of the Year, El Concilio’s 2010 Amigo Award, and the University of the Pacific’s Outstanding Leadership Award.
In 2005, Martinez became the first Latino in 20 years to sit on the City of Stockton’s Planning commission after being appointed by Mayor Ed Chavez. Three years later Martinez served as chairman of the commission.
Martinez also co-owns Premier Security & Fire Inc., a Modesto-based commercial fire and security company.
To register or learn more about the Economic Summit, visit www.cahcc.com or call (916) 444-2221.