2016 holds promise for business, community leaders

The new year looks promising for the Rochester area, and for the Latino community in particular, local business and community leaders concurred.

This positive outlook for 2016 is thanks to the new opportunities that will be offered through the $500 million awarded to the Finger Lakes region as part of New York state’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative, they noted.

El Mensajero Católico spoke with several business and community leaders who shared their business-related predictions for 2016:

"I think the time is now (for revitalization of La Marketa on North Clinton Avenue). It’s a walking neighborhood. I’m confident those numbers haven’t changed. I’m pretty confident based just on me walking through Clinton in the summers. You can’t cross the street … because too many people walking. That’s a haven for retail base.

"I’m feeling optimistic this time around because of URI (Upstate Revitalization Initiative) and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Council. The reception I’m gauging is good. … Ten years later, as a community planner, we have a better understanding that it’s not always about the big box (stores). There are neighborhoods that still do business the way we did as kids."

Daisy Rivera-Algarin, senior marketing specialist, city of Rochester

"We are looking to be active participants (in economic grant proposals) in terms of employment. One of the big issues the Latino community has is that coming in, many don’t speak English. We need the resources to provide English classes. This year, Ibero has been providing them with a grant from Sen. Rich Funke and we hope to continue that.

"A lot of the these families are coming in also need GEDs. We provide assistance with that. Once they are done with that, we can move them into looking at classes at Monroe Community College, which has manufacturing programs so they can take advantage of the different training (classes) that are happening in the community.

"We also have a lot of professionals coming and these will be able to take advantage of (opportunities) in photonics and also take advantage of the classes in manufacturing that MCC has.

"There will be a lot of opportunities for our community. We just need to stay on top of what their needs are and trying to meet those needs.

"I really think there is a bright future for our community."

— Hilda Rosario-Escher, chief executive officer and executive director, Ibero-American Action League

"In my opinion, 2016 offers a great opportunity for all businesses in this region, with the award of the $500 million economic development grant for the Finger Lakes region … and it’s very important that all businesses, and particularly those of Hispanics, have specific strategies for their services.

"Beyond this timely initiative, there are ample opportunities for 2016 in terms of technological products and services, and we should that understand today’s market is increasingly online and the grand potential of that market.

"Every entrepreneur should know how to use technology to market their services and products. It is also important to understand that today’s consumer is savvy and needs quick and effective solutions. So, our community needs to be ready to face these new challenges head on.

"Another important aspect for anyone interested in business development in the Finger Lakes region is that we have an incredible pool of talented people, especially in the areas of engineering and technology, which is why it is fundamental that we pursue new avenues in the technology and innovation arenas."

— Mauricio Riveros, chief innovation officer, the Pike Co.

"The state grant gives us all hope that this will translate into an increase of jobs for the greater Rochester community. Of course, not all the possible jobs will be seen right away, and we have to keep that in mind or our expectations will surely not be met.

"We have brilliant young Latino youths in our surrounding universities: University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher, just to name a few. They are getting degrees in management, technology and other disciplines I believe will be needed with these new initiatives. Recruitment for all new jobs should begin right here in Rochester, … (before) we lose too many talented Latino professional to other cities and states.

"The challenges have not changed. We need to continue to prepare our community, young and not so young Latinos, to meet the needs of business, not just the new companies but also those that have been part of the Rochester labor market for years. (We need) training programs that teach the skills our local industries need, high school graduates that can read, write and have critical thinking skills. There have been some efforts made in the past few years; that must continue to move forward."

— Vilma Burgos-Torres, chairwoman, Rochester Hispanic Business Association

"In this community, there were two very exciting announcements last year that have the potential to put this community back on the economic map in this country. Rochester was chosen as the Photonic Center of the country, promising an economic infusion the city desperately needs. The second announcement was the $500 million Finger Lakes Development state grant. For sure these two economic development initiatives will drive our economic growth for the next decade and beyond.

"However, let’s pause for a minute and look at this picture from the perspective of an average unskilled person who is living in our city with little hope. A 30-year-old man complained to me that ‘all those photonic jobs are going to outsiders. I applied and there was not anything for me.’ ‘Those jobs are tech, aren’t they?’ I said. ‘Yes they are, and I don’t have any of the skills they want,’ he said. I took the opportunity to try to explain to the young man the positive ripple effect that all of those high-tech jobs will have on the economy that may benefit him eventually. I also took the opportunity to try to educate him on the importance of a good education. He seemed to listen. And I pray that I gave him a sense of hope. I am not sure. And I hope the state’s $500 million grant focuses sufficient funding to provide training to people like this young man."

Julio Vázquez, president-elect, Rochester Latino Rotary Club

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