El Mensajero debuts section on economic development

This month’s El Mensajero Católico features the debut of a new section called “El Mural de la Comunidad.”

The section developed as a joint venture between El Mensajero Católico and several community groups: La Cumbre, Rochester Hispanic Business Association, Rochester Latino Rotary Club and Ibero-American Action League.

The yearlong pilot project was unveiled during the RHBA’s annual luncheon on Sept. 22 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, which honored Zury Brown as Hispanic Business Person of the Year.

The coverage added in each monthly El Mural section will focus on various aspects of economic development in the Hispanic community. (see box)

“It’s no surprise that the Hispanic community has long seen economic development as the key to improving the quality of life for Latinos in the Rochester and greater Rochester area,” Vilma Burgos-Torres, the new RHBA president, said during the Sept. 22 luncheon. “Please let this group, La Cumbre that is initiating this (project), know of your concerns. Get involved.”

La Cumbre and RHBA members first approached El Mensajero this past spring about partnering in an economic-development project, said La Cumbre member Mauricio Riveros, chief innovation officer for the Pike Co. La Cumbre is an ad-hoc think tank focused on creating change in four key areas: economic development, education, arts, and culture and government relations.

La Cumbre’s economic-development team has been working on making the greater Rochester area known to regional and international companies, added La Cumbre member Jackie Ortiz, a Rochester councilwoman.

“It became apparent that we needed to expand venues to share this type of information and more” about the local Latino business market, she noted.

The group decided El Mensajero would be a good partner, since it is a publication whose focus is the Latino/Hispanic community and has the resources to take on this new endeavor, but is small enough to entertain the idea, Ortiz added.

El Mensajero‘s history and reputation as an award-winning publication both at the national and statewide levels, its nonprofit status, its research and reporting capabilities, and its connections to local Latino professionals also made the publication the perfect fit, Riveros said. Following several meetings, El Mensajero staff came up with the title El Mural de la Comunidad.

Karen Franz, general manager of El Mensajero and the Catholic Courier, said that she did not know what to expect when first approached by members of La Cumbre and RHBA. She initially was hesitant to incur additional costs of adding a section to El Mensajero, especially given a decline in cultural-diversity advertising following the recession. But further discussions helped her see the project could be a win-win situation.

“El Mural will highlight progress made and remaining challenges for the Hispanic community on such issues as civic education and voting; education; the roles of women in Latin businesses; health care; social entrepreneurship; and care for the elderly,” Franz explained. “Although these are critical issues for area Latinos, they receive very little comprehensive news coverage. We believe El Mensajero is uniquely positioned to provide in-depth coverage of these issues, offering both a perspective on how far the community has come, but also a view of the route forward and the obstacles that must be surmounted along the way.”

Riveros said that El Mural also has the potential to make a great impact on economic development in several ways, including:

* Presenting tables of key indicators to measure progress on a different topic each month.

* Elevating the level of awareness about Hispanics’ influence in business and job creation.

* Forging greater connections between small entrepreneurs and large organizations and companies to combat poverty.

* Unifying the Latino community for the good of everyone.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how El Mural works as a medium for sharing business information in the community in order to promote local businesses and to allow for collaborations aimed at business growth,” said Luis Ormaechea, an attorney who serves as vice president of the RHBA board. “El Mensajero is read by a significant portion of the local population and is a trusted publication which can help groups like La Cumbre and the RHBA share important information with residents of the Rochester area.”

To make the venture successful, El Mensajero will look to the community for article suggestions — about success stories as well as areas of community need and ideas for meeting those needs — related to each month’s theme, Franz said. El Mural also will feature a monthly column related to the theme, and its staff will seek out guest columnists, she said.

“We also are reaching out to Latin-owned businesses and organizations — as well as those marketing to Hispanics — to purchase advertising within the pages of El Mural, which can only flourish if it receives support from the community,” Franz noted.

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