Hispanic chamber eager for outreach to PasadenaHouston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce • Nov 30, 2017
Hispanic chamber eager for outreach to Pasadena
By Jaimy Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org Updated 3:34 pm, Thursday, November 30, 2017
The nation's largest Hispanic business organization is intent on partnering with the city of Pasadena to support not only Latino-owned enterprises but small business of all kinds.
Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Laura Murillo said that the "changing of the guard" in Pasadena politics presents a long overdue opportunity.
Jeff Wagner was elected in May to replace longtime Mayor Johnny Isbell, who was term-limited.
Murillo, whose Houston-based advocacy group started in 1977, plans to visit Pasadena in December to meet with Wagner and other city officials to discuss how a renewed partnership between the two can benefit the city's businesses and residents.
Said Wagner in a prepared statement: "I'm honored the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has recognized our efforts to take our city to the next level, both economically and in quality of living. Having a strong relationship with the HHCC brings networking possibilities for small business owners and job growth opportunities for our citizens."
"I think the biggest opportunity is the relationship with Pasadena and the changing demographics there," Murillo said. "There is much to be learned from cities like Houston."
In fact, a prominent figure in Houston politics is now employed by Pasadena as Wagner's chief of staff. James Rodriguez, a former member of Houston City Council, accepted the position in June.
He and Murillo have been close since Rodriguez began his political career.
"We want to make sure people understand that Pasadena is open for business and want to see more women-owned businesses and diversity," Rodriguez said. "Maybe more people that haven't participated before. That's where the chamber comes in for people who may not have had a chance to before."
He said that the Hispanic chamber doesn't just promote Latino-owned enterprises.
" As far as memberships, there are African-American businesses and Asian businesses. It's really a reflection of our diversity in south Harris County. So, it's very inclusive and diverse," Rodriguez said.
He advises any small business in Pasadena wishing to provide goods or services to the city to reach out to municipal officials.
"Engineering, construction, catering, landscaping, office supplies - we're always in need and always looking for competitive deals," he said.
Wagner said, "Pasadena is open for business. I look forward to developing strong relationships with as many professional organizations as possible. Our location so close to the Port of Houston makes Pasadena a regional economic engine and a strategic asset for all parties involved."
Rodriguez said that Wagner plans to aid the business climate and quality of life in Pasadena, including a focus on addressing blighted buildings.
"We have a lot of blighted buildings," Rodriguez said.The mayor also wants to repair public park equipment and promoting Pasadena to regional business leaders, Rodriguez said.
Part of that plan includes Carlos Guzman, hired this year as director at Pasadena Second Century Corp., the nonprofit aimed at economic development in the city.
"Carlos Guzman was at the economic board for (the city of) Pearland and Greater Houston Partnership. He's a shot in the arm and utilizing his connections and bringing that expertise to Pasadena," Rodriguez said.
Isbell had wielded political power in the city for decades. For May's election, Pasadena reverted to all single-member districts after a federal judge said that an Isbell-backed council system mixing at-large and district seats served to dilute Hispanic voting strength.
Murillo said she had a relationship with Isbell when he was mayor but said that it was not significant.
She said she is enthusiastic about the city's leadership, saying that Wagner "gets it" when it comes to improving quality of life for all residents.
Said Rodriguez: "It's a new day in Pasadena and we're really changing the conversation from what Pasadena used to be."
As published in the Houston Chroniche http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/pasadena/article/Hispanic-chamber-eager-for-outreach-to-Pasadena-12396135.php