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NOVA Driving’s Turnaround 

By Migdalis Perez, Negocios Now-

Coronavirus’ impact on small businesses forced Mayra Khan to park her cars, but it didn’t slow her down at all. 

The CEO of NOVA Driving School quickly revved up the engine of creativity and launched a temporary business model that is giving the COVID-19 a run: online driving classes with live instructors.

“In Illinois we were the first in our industry, to offer live classes on the web with classroom teachers. We also put materials and tests online for all students to register immediately. We did it in a matter of one day and that is what has saved us,” acknowledges the executive.

Khan recalls that when the coronavirus epidemic began, her first thought was, “Now what do we do?” Because, logically, they were forced to close. “We had to park our 27 cars; cars that were rolling. And we also had to watch over the health of our instructors and teachers. ”

So, respecting the preventive guidelines of social distancing, “we sanitized all of our locations and closed them up; we took telephones and computers home and, began to work on the telephone, the Internet, e-mails… All of this was implemented immediately because we could not stop our business either .”

With 39 employees on its payroll, NOVA Driving School now offers driving classes through webinars for both adults and teens. “For teenagers, we are doing the courses required by the state of Illinois, and we are also offering online courses which upon completion qualify drivers for discounts on insurance.”

Considering that her business depends on the Secretary of State for driving licenses, Khan points out that, when the Department of Motor Vehicles opens, NOVA will be fully occupied with people who have already passed their courses. 

When that time comes, she adds, “We are going to have to look for alternatives or make a division in our cars between the driver and the teacher. We have to come up with a way, maybe masks like doctors’ for teachers to wear. And the students are going to have to come with masks because I don’t think they are going to find a cure for the virus right now. ”

The businesswoman of Ecuadorian origin, who recently obtained a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, concludes that they are already buying masks and gloves for when they return to regular classes, so the instructors “will be able to do their job,” not without stopping to “wash their hands. and clean everything with bleach, because from now on, that is going to be our new normal until they find a vaccine. ”

City of Chicago launches $5 million grant program for Microbusiness

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Commissioner Rosa Escareno today announced a new $5 million Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program to provide grants to up to 1,000 microbusinesses in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods that have been impacted by the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

Made possible with support from foundations, individuals and businesses to The Chicago Community Trust in partnership with The One Chicago Fund, the new grant program will award businesses with grants of $5,000 which will be distributed via lottery.

Applications are available today and will be open until May 4. To apply, visit www.chicago.gov/recoverygrant.

To ensure much-needed relief is provided to businesses as fast as possible, grants will be all awarded by May 11, just one week after the application closes.

Our small businesses are fundamentally rooted in, hiring in and building wealth in Chicago’s neighborhoods – which is why we need to ensure our local entrepreneurs most-impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have the resources and supports they need to survive this unprecedented moment of economic hardship,” said Mayor Lightfoot.

Designed for businesses that may not be able to obtain funding through federal and other financing programs, the new $5 million grant program will support businesses operating in low- and moderate-income communities with four or fewer employees by providing funds to be used for working capital.

By targeting these grants to microbusinesses in these communities, the City is ensuring that much-needed grant dollars are allocated to businesses with less cash on hand that may have difficulty taking on debt through other emergency programs.

These microbusinesses represent more than half of all Chicago businesses, are more likely minority or immigrant-owned, and have expressed to the City difficulty accessing federal support through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Chicago’s small businesses are fundamental to the economy and character of our city,” said Rosa Escareno, BACP Commissioner. “Many of our businesses have been left out of other financial options because they lack lending relationships or are unable to take on debt. This investment means that microbusinesses in critical areas of the city will have the cash they need to navigate this crisis.”

To ensure Chicago’s smallest and most-severely impacted businesses have access to the financial aid relief, eligible businesses must have four or fewer employees, less than $250,000 in annual revenue and experienced a 25 percent decrease in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Additionally, all eligible establishments must be in business for at least one year of the grant disbursement and must be located within a low- or moderate-income area of the city, defined as any Community Area with at least 65 percent low- or moderate-income individuals.

A map of the eligible Community Areas can be found here.

Small businesses are critical to our city, and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to see the City stepping up to support our neighborhood businesses,” said Jaime di Paulo, President and CEO of Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Through this Grant Program hundreds of business owners that might be locked out of other funding opportunities will see the critical support they need. We are all in this together and efforts like this will help get us through this crisis.”

To help small businesses navigate the financial landscape, BACP announced three additional Small Business Resource Navigators, bringing the total to 13 neighborhood navigators that can provide individualized support to business owners.

Details on how to make appointments with Small Business Resource Navigators can be found here.
Navigators are experienced business support organizations with the expertise to assist business owners as they seek local, state and federal financial assistance.

Navigators are specifically trained by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help businesses navigate federal assistance, including the Paycheck Protection Program, which began accepting applications on April 27th for the second round of funding

Chicago property tax shifts could ‘shock’ Illinois into recession

The head of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce warned that shifting Cook County’s property tax burden to businesses could shock the entire state of Illinois into an economic downturn.

From 2018 to 2019, the Cook County Assessor’s office said the northern third of the county’s businesses would see their share of the total property tax burden go from 34 percent to 44 percent. That represents a sizable shift in property taxes to businesses, which Jack Lavin, CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said will mean an estimated $1 billion more in property taxes for those businesses compared to what they had been paying.

Lavin warned that a shift to higher fixed costs on the majority of businesses in the county could shock the region.

“It’s important to remember the first casualties of a sudden tax shift would be the small, locally owned properties and tenants who would be unable to afford the tax pass-throughs,” he said.

This economic hit could shift the region’s economic trajectory downward in a way that would be felt far outside of Cook County, Lavin said.

“We are at risk of shocking the region into an economic downturn when you combine an uncertain property tax environment with a looming pension crisis and new, costly mandates on the region’s employers,” he said. “The changes proposed could result in businesses paying much more, which could alarm investors and slow growth for the city and county.”

In the economic sense, a 2011 study found that states can enter and exit recessions independent of others, but didn’t remark on business climate, rather major industries such as oil and agriculture were the catalyst for economic downturns.

Lavin wants the assessor’s office to put a hold on the property tax increases and conduct a study on the potential effects of such a significant cost hike.

“It’s a very broad effect,” said Thomas McElroy II, a Chicago property technology consultant and CEO of Level 1 Global Solutions, a commercial technology firm. “That property tax mismanagement needs to be addressed and it needs to be fixed, but you can’t fix in an hour and forty-five minutes problems that took decades to materialize.”

McElroy also said that new developments shouldn’t be forced to pay an outsized portion of the city’s financial burden.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office responded to Lavin’s comments.

“Our office does not set property tax rates nor does it set the levies,” said spokesman Scott Smith. “Our assessments merely divide that levy equitably among property owners. We’ve released extensive reports on how our assessments are developed and released a tool on our website to help anyone understand how rates and levies relate to assessments. A recent Cushman and Wakefield report provide ample evidence that increases in property assessments do not directly lead to the same increase in taxes. There’s plenty of information and analysis out there for anyone who wants to develop a clear understanding of how our office works.”

Kaegi spoke about the topic at the City Club of Chicago last month. He said the old model of assessments left many businesses in the county paying far less than they should have. This, Kaegi said, meant homeowners and other businesses not lucky enough to be given a lower assessment were left to pay the remainder of the levy.

“When looking at the top fifty commercial properties in the northern suburbs, in almost all cases, we got much closer to the market price than higher assessments,” Kaegi told the crowd. “If some people are paying too little, other people are paying too much.”

Property taxes aren’t collected at an established rate on the outset in the way sales and income taxes are imposed. The county, along with numerous other bodies of government, set percentages that properties will be taxed. The value of the home, known as the equalized assessed value or EAV, is set using a blanket process of assessment by the county assessor’s office. Property owners can appeal assessments.

IHCC names Jaime di Paulo as its new President and CEO

Chicago- The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) Board of Directors announced today that Jaime di Paulo will serve as the organization’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.

 For the past five years, Di Paulo has served as Executive Director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce (LVCC).

 Di Paulo was selected by the IHCC Board, following a rigorous and competitive process led by Noetic Search LLC, an executive recruitment firm.

“Over his tenure at LVCC, the budget, membership and volunteer base all grew significantly.  He also was able to build support and participation from elected officials and corporate leaders contributing to heightened visibility for LVCC and increased opportunities for business growth for members and non-members alike” .

According to IHCC, these accomplishments were recognized in 2018, with LVCC being awarded Chamber of the Year by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“As the next CEO of IHCC, I have a moral obligation to be personally involved, not only to support business growth and develop our organization, but also to help our Hispanic communities prosper by using our influence proactively with the business community to make a sustainable difference,” said Jaime di Paulo.  

Di Paulo commented that he felt  thrilled, excited, grateful and humbled all in the same moment.

 “In collaboration with the IHCC Board of Directors and staff, my job as leader is to start the fire that fuels the virtuous cycle of success here in Illinois and turn our work into a beacon of hope, creating and shaping the future. One of my key deliverables as I take office next January 22nd, is to ‘imagine’ the IHCC future.   With that in mind, we should then concentrate on validating our strategic choices to make it a reality”, he said. 

“ I personally could not be more proud of the hard work my fellow board members displayed during this process,” said Board Chair, Juan Gaytan.  “We selected Jaime for many reasons but, the key areas, were his understanding of the role of a statewide chamber of commerce and his demonstrated success bringing government and private sector projects to the Latino business community”.

The IHCC board and staff is committed to strengthening our membership and client’s businesses and help create a better world through entrepreneurship. With our new leadership we are excited about the future of IHCC.”

Kelly Francis, Chief Operating Officer

IHCC also announced that Kelley Francis will assume the role of IHCC’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). Over the last four months, Kelley has served as the Interim President and CEO, and prior to that as IHCC’s Vice President of Corporate Relations for 6 years.

“Kelley brings a wealth of institutional knowledge and business experience to the position. Kelley has extensive experience in small business consulting, new program design and implementation and sales. She is passionate about growing businesses, serving diverse small businesses and managing teams.  We are very excited to welcome Kelley to this new role”, the organization said.

Obama Foundation to HACIA: Yes, We Can!

The Obama Foundation assured the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA) that it will incorporate Hispanic-owned companies in the Design and Construction the Obama Presidential Center, which is to be built in the south of the city with an investment of $400 million dollars.

Michael Strautmanis, Chief Engagement Officer of the Obama Foundation, promised HACIA executives that they will work with their companies on upcoming projects during HACIA’s Annual Banquet, celebrated recently at the Hilton Hotel in Chicago.

Jorge Pérez, HACIA Executive Director expressed his gratitude for the Foundation’s position.

“We are extremely excited that the Obama Foundation has committed to utilizing HACIA Members and other Hispanic Firms in the development of the Obama Presidential Center. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the City of Chicago, our State, and Country,” he said in a statement to Negocios Now.”

“So not only did Hispanics help Obama get elected, but we will be part of the design plans to build this wonderful center. This cements President Obama’s legacy and commitment to Chicago’s Hispanic Community. “

Obama Foundation’s decision came after HACIA protested the fact that no Hispanic owned company had been included in the original the Presidential Center construction project.

The Presidential Obama Center has hired a group of five construction companies, mostly owned by African-Americans, to build the center on the south side of Chicago.

Lakeside Alliance is formed by Turner Construction Co., Powers & Sons Construction Co., UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen and Safeway Construction Co. The collective was formed more than two years ago to work on the Presidential Center’s project.

“The Obama Foundation has made diversity and inclusion a top priority, both for the construction of our project and for the operation of our center. We recently announced that 50 percent of the subcontracts of our construction project will go to different companies.”

The design includes three buildings, a museum, a forum and a library, surrounded by a public square in the city park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

“We look forward to creating a new model for diversity and inclusion in construction that will have a lasting impact on HACIA and its members.” (Photo, from left, Michael Strautmanis, Chief Engagement Officer, Obama Foundation  Ivan Solis, HACIA Board President Solis Construction, Jorge Perez HACIA Executive Director)

USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez resigns

The President and CEO of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), Javier Palomarez resigned his position, the organization reported.

The resignation takes place after  The New York Time reported an allegation of sexual harassment and alleged mismanagement of funds, which was immediately denied by Palomarez and now confirmed by the USHCC Board of Directors after an independent investigation.

“Working with outside attorneys and auditors for the past three months, and in response to the allegations of a former board member and a former employee, the Board of Directors conducted a thorough review of the allegations of financial and sexual misconduct by of its President and CEO, Javier Palomarez. In the end, the Board has determined that there is no evidence of misconduct or financial, labor or sexual misconduct, “the USHCC says in a statement.

The president of the Board of Directors of the USHCC, Don Salazar, thanked Palomarez for his service to the organization.

“Under his direction, the USHCC has become one of the most influential advocacy groups in the country for Hispanics and small American businesses,” he adds.

However – he continues – after much deliberation and careful consideration for the future of the USHCC, Mr. Palomarez and the Board have mutually agreed to undergo a leadership transition for the organization.

To that end, the USHCC appointed a Government Committee that will oversee leadership changes in the coming weeks. In the meantime, an interim Director of Operations will be selected to work with the USHCC Board of Directors, Mr. Palomarez and the camera staff to ensure a seamless transition and uninterrupted support and promotion of Hispanic entrepreneurs across the United States. note.

For his part, Palomarez said in his Facebook account that he says goodbye “with gratitude” from the organization.

“I am extremely proud of my 9-year term as President and CEO of the USHCC, always appreciating what we, as a team, have achieved for the 4.4 million businesses owned by Hispanics in the United States and countless corporate executives.

“I know that representing these people is too important a mission for distractions and internal division, so I look forward to working with the Board and staff in the coming weeks to put in place a leadership team that can inspire more in our community. to build businesses and achieve the American dream, “he said.

Palomarez expressed “to all those who were part of this incredible trip. I learned a lot from all of you … friend and enemy. In my life, I worry about what is right, instead of who is right. And after so much division and acrimony, the right thing to do is to get away. A farewell with gratitude, acceptance and truth “.

$30 Million Funding to Help Train Workforce for Future Energy Jobs

Illinois Commerce Commission filing is first step in developing solar and other renewable energy jobs pipeline

Chicago.-  A combination of six business associations and social institutions have been named as recipients of funding for the development and administration of future energy jobs training as a part of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA).

Chicago Urban League, Austin People’s Action Center, ASPIRA, HACIA, Chatham Business Association and the National Latino Education Institute (NLEI) will develop training programs related to solar and energy efficiency as a part of the FEJA’s goal to prepare a workforce ready for the future energy industry.

ComEd, the Clean Jobs Coalition, and the grantee groups came together at Austin People’s Action Center today to mark ComEd’s filing of the FEJA Jobs Training plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Passed by the Illinois Legislature in 2016, and effective June 1, 2016, FEJA allocates $10 million every four years in 2017, 2021, and 2025—a total of $30 million– for solar pipeline training programs, craft apprenticeships and multicultural training for individuals from diverse and/or underserved backgrounds.

“Today’s filing with the ICC marks a critical milestone in bringing this Jobs Training program to life,” said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd President and CEO. “This training program is one of several of the Future Energy Jobs Act’s elements that help set a course for Illinois’ energy future — the gateway to clean energy and $4B in anticipated energy efficiency savings already have been set in motion and now we launch training for new economy jobs.”

Stakeholders and training organizations were engaged to help develop a collaborative plan. ComEd will continue working with these partners to design programs that will involve a breadth of organizations from various communities, and which ensure accountability and shared expectations.

“This program will dramatically change the lives of National Latino Education Institute (NLEI) graduates, by preparing and positioning them in the market to find excellent jobs in the new energy economy,” said NLEI Executive Director Elba Aranda-Suh.

Dr. Wanda FigueroaPeralta, President & CEO of Aspira said that the organization  “is excited to join forces with ComEd and other organizations to prepare a diversified, well educated workforce. FEJA will help create a brighter future for underrepresented, talented youth by offering training and career opportunities in the emerging solar industry.

“We are thrilled that HACIA has been selected to participate in the Future Energy Job Act Training Program,” said Jorge Perez, Executive Director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA). “We have a strong legacy of providing training for Hispanic and minority contractors that gives them capacity building skills, certifications and knowledge they need to grow their businesses.
The six grantees of the multicultural jobs program

  • Chicago Urban League: $1,000,000 to a community-based civil rights and human services not-for-profit organization that provides economic development, human capital, and education program services.
  • National Latino Education Institute (NLEI) $500,000 to a not-for-profit organization that is also an education institution that offers training programs approved by the Illinois State Board of Education and United States Department of Education with the goal of providing workforce initiatives leading to economic independence.
  • ASPIRA: $500,000 to a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing the educational and leadership capacity of minority youth through the operation of schools, youth leadership clubs and youth development centers
  • HACIA: $1,000,000 to a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing equal access to opportunities in the construction industry that offer training programs that include Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10 and 30 certifications, Environmental Protection Agency Renovation, Repair and Painting Certification and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Green Associate Exam preparation courses.
  • Chatham Business Association: $500,000 to a non-profit organization that has a proven record of successfully implementing utility industry training programs, with expertise in creating programs that strengthen the economics of communities including technical training workshops and economic development through community and financial partners
  • APAC: $500,000 to a nonprofit organization that provides family services, housing education, job and career education opportunities that has successfully partnered with the utility on electric industry job training. Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition spokesman Pastor Booker Vance of Faith in Place said,

Javier Baez celebrates “Latinos 40 Under 40 Award” with a Grand Slam

Chicago (HINA) Shortly after receiving the “Now 40 Latino Under 40” award from Negocios Now, Javier Baez fired a Grand Slam that was instrumental in the Cubs’ win against the Cincinnati Reds.

 Shortly before starting the game at Wrigley Field, Báez, 24, received a plaque for being the  “Youngest Latino 40 Under 40” in 2016

“He was pleased, grateful and we really enjoyed that moment, it was exciting to hear Javy cheer and see the Negocios Now cover on Wrigley’s giant screens,” said Clemente Nicado, Publisher and Editor in Chief at Negocios Now.

 “But we do not imagine that minutes later he would thank in a very special way: a Grand Slam,” Nicado said.

Latinos 40 Under 40 is a  Negocios Now initiative to recognize young generations of Latinos who make a difference in their respective areas.

The celebration event was in early March, but the Cub’s second baseman was unable to attend because he was in spring training.

The extraordinary performance of Javier Báez in 2016 was key for the Cubs to be crowned Champions of the World Series.

 Negocios Now prepares the celebration of its 10 Anniversary with a special edition and a Gala event that will take place at the Hyatt Regency hotel, on July 14th.

Diego Ferrer ITT at Chicago Department of Aviation

Diego Ferrer leads the strategic planning efforts of the Information Technology/ Telecommunications division to support the mission of the Chicago Department of Aviation.? He leads the efforts to develop solutions that improve the customer experience, reduce costs and enhance operational efficiencies.

He also provides oversight for IT/Telecommunications solutions including: network and desktop support, application development, video and camera management systems, enterprise systems, wireless infrastructure, distributed antenna systems, PCI compliance, content management platforms, and network security.

Diego is a Senior IT Executive with proven track record in systems design, development and maintenance, vendor management, engineering, networking, and office technologies. He has over 25 years of technical experience in the IT Industry and has extensive experience with IT strategic planning.

Mr. Ferrer comes from the private sector. He has provided technical and managerial leadership for different consulting companies where he managed teams of technology specialists. He managed services provided to several customers, which included application development, technology package selection, acquisition, implementation and support, systems administration, network operations, technical security, disaster recovery, vendor management, business process improvement and end-user support.

As a board member of the Illinois Procurement Policy Board, Diego also reviewed the State’s contracting activity in the areas justified as sole source, emergency, professional and artistic, and for construction, service and commodities.

He holds a Bachelors of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology. He also holds a Management Certificate from Loyola University. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and holds several certifications from IBM, VMware, Microsoft and CompTIA.

A New Era in Cuba Travel Begins as JetBlue Lands in Santa Clara With Historic First Flight

New York.-  Jetblue made history when it touched down in Santa Clara, Cuba, becoming the first U.S. airline to operate a commercial flight between the two countries in more 50 years. JetBlue flight 387 from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) landed at Abel Santamaría Airport (SNU) just before 11 a.m. local time.

Crewmembers at the Santa Clara Abel Santamaría International Airport in Cuba welcome JetBlue flight 387, the first commercial flight to Cuba from U.S. in more than 50 years.

The flight ushers in a new era of affordable and convenient air travel to Cuba, and comes after months of collaboration between JetBlue, U.S. officials, Cuban officials and business partners to resume air service between the two countries.

“We are proud to be the first U.S. airline to serve Cuba, but our focus is on being the best airline serving Cuba,” said Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer, JetBlue. “This historic flight symbolizes our long-term commitment to provide affordable, award-winning service between Cuba and the U.S. For the first time in decades, families separated by only a short stretch of water can easily and affordably visit a loved one, attend an important occasion or visit a special place – and the role we play speaks directly to our mission of inspiring humanity.”

Hayes, along with JetBlue leadership, government officials from both nations, dignitaries and the first customers, were welcomed in Santa Clara with a water canon salute and a celebration by Cuban officials at the airport located some 160 miles east of Havana.

The occasion marked not only the first U.S. scheduled commercial flight since the 1960s, but also the first time an American carrier has operated a scheduled commercial jetliner between the U.S. and Cuba, as U.S. airlines only flew propeller-powered aircraft to the Caribbean island before the embargo began.

“We commend the incredible and tireless work of both U.S. and Cuban officials for making today possible. We extend our deep appreciation to the Ministry of Transportation, IACC, and the Santa Clara Airport for entrusting us to operate this historic flight and look forward to our long-term partnership as we continue to grow our presence in Cuba. And in the U.S., we congratulate Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the Department of Transportation, Secretary John Kerry and the Department of State, Secretary Penny Pritzker and the Department of Commerce, and the Obama Administration for their leadership in achieving this historic milestone,” said JetBlue CEO Hayes.

“Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is proud to be the first airport in the United States to offer regularly scheduled commercial service to Cuba,” said Mark Gale, CEO/Director, Broward County Aviation Department. “We look forward to the continued partnership with JetBlue as they continue their growth and success here in Broward County.”

JetBlue Sets Out toRemove Cost & Complexity for Customers

With one-way fares starting at $99 (b) the airline has removed the high costs and complexity of travel to Cuba while offering the same award-winning service that has made JetBlue popular throughout the Caribbean. True to its customer focus, JetBlue is taking a number of steps unique to its Cuba launch to set it apart from competitors known for offering high prices and inferior service:

  • Affordable fares: JetBlue offers a low starting fare to make Cuba more accessible to those visiting family members or traveling to Cuba for cultural, business or group travel.
  • Health insurance included: JetBlue includes Cuban government-required health insurance coverage for all travelers on all Cuba-bound flights so that customers do not have to worry about obtaining the insurance separately.
  • Affidavit in a few clicks: Under U.S. regulations, every customer traveling to Cuba must complete an affidavit affirming the customer is going for one of 12 reasons of approved travel from the U.S. Department of Treasury. JetBlue has built the completion of the affidavit right into the booking process so it can be finished in only a couple of clicks.
  • Day-of-travel Cuban Tourist Visa (Tourist Card): Separate from the U.S.-regulated 12 categories, Cuba requires visitors to obtain an entrance visa onto the island. For customers who qualify for a Cuban Tourist Visa (Tourist Card), JetBlue will make those available for purchase upon check-in at one of its gateway airports or at the gate for connecting customers on the day of travel. All travelers to Cuba should contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington to determine the appropriate type of visa required by Cuba for their purpose of travel.
  • First bag flies free (c), 1+1 carry-ons: To make travel more affordable than before scheduled service, JetBlue includes at least one free checked bag, up to 50 pounds, in all of its fare options to Cuba. Normal carry-on regulations will apply: one carry-on and one personal item.
  • Breeze in, breeze out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood:Broward County’s Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is considered South Florida’s most convenient airport, centrally located just 30 minutes north of Miami, and 45 minutes south of Palm Beach. With convenient parking located a close walking distance from the terminals, travelers can breeze in and clear security within minutes.

JetBlue Positions Itself to Be Preferred Airline to Cuba, and Throughout Caribbean

In addition to Santa Clara, JetBlue will launch service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Camagüey – Ignacio Agramonte Airport (CMW) on November 3, and Holguín – Frank País Airport (HOG) on November 10, subject to receipt of government operating authority.

JetBlue tentatively plans to serve the Cuban capital of Havana with daily flights between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) (a). With up to seven daily flights between the U.S. and Cuba JetBlue is committed to investing in and growing new Cuban markets.

When service to Cuba begins, JetBlue will operate in 22 countries and the new routes will further grow JetBlue’s presence in the Caribbean and at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood where the airline is the largest carrier, flying to more than 50 nonstop destinations by the end of the year. Customers across the JetBlue network may also take advantage of JetBlue’s convenient connections to and from Cuba through its South Florida focus city.

JetBlue’s commercial service follows nearly five years of successful charter service operating multiple routes between Cuban markets and U.S. cities. In that time, JetBlue has built strong relationships with airport authorities and worked closely together to make the launch of commercial service possible.

Flights between the U.S. and Santa Clara, Camagüey and Holguín will be operated on JetBlue’s Airbus A320 aircraft offering the airline’s award-winning service, featuring the most legroom in coach (d); free Fly-Fi, the fastest broadband internet in the sky (e); complimentary and unlimited name-brand snacks and soft drinks; free, live DIRECTV® programming and 100 channels of SiriusXM® radio in every seatback.


Monterrey Security: Touchdown with the Minnesota Vikings

By Clemente Nicado, Editor in Chief
Juan Gaytán is one of those entrepreneurs who has a dream and doesn’t let it go until he — in football terms — makes the touchdown.His company, Monterrey Security, Inc., has just signed a five-year contract to handle another powerful team: The Minnesota Vikings.Now, the Pilsen-based business is responsible for guarding the security of two rivals, the Vikings and the Chicago Bears, which have been clients for 16 years.

The news comes just one year after Monterrey hit a homerun by being chosen to guard Wrigley Field stadium, giving Negocios Now another piece of breaking news and a popular cover for our social media pages.

In an exclusive interview with Negocios Now, an enthusiastic Gaytán speaks of the new challenge in Minnesota, his business philosophy and the reactions of the Chicago Bears leaders when they found out he would be guarding their staunchest enemies.

Gaytán laughs just thinking about the days when Monterrey will be guarding both teams as they face off in Soldier Field or US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, because Gaytán is not an athlete or a fan first, but the CEO of the only Latino business that has been able to get a foot in the door of the exclusive NFL.

“We handle two of just 32 teams in the NFL in the whole country,” he said enthusiastically. “And they’re two big teams, and rivals of many years.”

Of course it was a difficult selection process. So why did the Vikings choose Monterrey Security over security companies that are five or 10 times the size of the business whose roots trace to Mexico?

“Our vision,” Gaytán said without hesitation. “Our philosophy of working within the local community. This is a marked difference between us and other security companies.”

Along these lines, Gaytán and his team set out for Minneapolis as soon as they received the green light from the Vikings, opening offices and starting the process of hiring 2,000 people, but not just through advertisements in newspapers or on local TV.

“We are looking inside the community, in the small neighborhoods, in the churches, with the support of the leaders of community organizations,” said the former Chicago cop. “These jobs are for the people of Minnesota. There’s no one better than them to guard their own stadium and get this opportunity.”

The challenge for Gaytán is great. Especially because he is in new territory, far from Chicago.

It seems as though Minnesota has not had a business with this philosophy, according to Gaytán. In fact, many people did not know the security company that had been working for the Vikings for 20 years.

“They told me it would be difficult, that this had never been done here, that they didn’t think it would work. And I responded, ‘Have faith, support us and you’ll see, we have done it for 17 years,’” said Gaytán, who considers it an advantage to be “a multicultural business, with a visible presence of Latinos and African Americans. That’s where the strength and the growth potential of Monterrey Security resides.”

“Many have asked us, why aren’t there more African American and Latino police officers. Well, it is, among other things, because they are not given the opportunity. Here, we have prepared them and given them experience, and thanks to it, they have gone on to be police officers, firemen and other types of security officers.”

Are The Bears bothered by Monterrey’s contract to guard their rivals? Not at all. The opposite, in fact. “Before we started the process, we went to ask permission from the owners of the Bears, and not only did they give us their blessing, but they made a video to show their support.”

“It was very emotional — a video that made us cry. This was huge for us. It’s a testament to the years of work, their hopes that we keep moving forward, that we are a family that wants to support the community.”

Neither side will say how much the contract is for. But for Monterrey Security, the only Hispanic business that has secured contracts with four of the most important sports organizations in the country (NFL, MLS, MLB, and PGA), money isn’t the most important thing now.

For now, the business is working at top speed to be ready for next July, when US Bank Stadium, a behemoth that was built at a cost of $1.1 billion — the most expensive in the history of the league — opens its doors with a country and rock concert before it hosts the teams of the NFL.

“We have to show the country that it can be done with our philosophy of involving the local community and inspire other people to follow our lead,” Gaytán insisted.


How To Improve Your ‘Brand’ This Year

7 Steps To Kick-Starting An Improved You (Or Business)

Perhaps more than in any other time in history, in 2016, your name is your brand, says Pamela J. Green, a business and branding expert.

“I think most of us get this concept – we live in a celebrity-obsessed society, so we understand how a person’s name can also be their brand,” she says. “Social media also reinforces this idea. Our names are usually one of an infinite chorus of brands. People can see who liked a New York Times article, who criticized a political position and who recently became engaged to whom. Most people today meet our name/brand before actually – or ever – meeting us in person.”

While many may see this as cold and impersonal, Green says this could be an opportunity to more objectively improve who we are – whether on a personal or business basis.

Green, author of the new book “Think Like a Brand,” (www.pamelajgreen.com), offers a summary of her seven steps to improving your brand.

• Begin by writing your mission. What drives you? To know this is to help you determine what success means in your life. Football hall of famer Michael Strahan, for example, knew that he didn’t want to disappoint his parents. Whatever drives you, Green says, a clear mission achieving it will act as a discernable path on a reliable map.
• Identify your organization’s brand, needs and priorities. This is for those who want to better bond their own name/brand to another brand/organization. What’s the connection? If your company’s brand is about making healthy tasty treats, and you are developing a personal brand centered on music and art therapy, there could be a mission disconnect. Or, you simply haven’t found the sensible way to make the underlying connection.
• Conduct your brand research. Determine the future skills needed for what you want to do, and research the industry and businesses in the industry that have success in your ideal future. For the more personal branding perspective, ask yourself, “What are the long-term habits I need to adopt in order to be the person I want to be five years from now?” That could be learning a new language or adopting a new diet.
• Create your brand template. If your brand were a can on a shelf, would it be dented, disheveled and would the label be torn? If you ignore, reject or skip this step, Green says, then you’ve volunteered to live the life you have instead of the life you want.
• Grow strategic visibility. In a room or a business meeting, would you describe yourself as a church mouse or a brave eagle? Even if your brand emphasizes a sort of low-key class and subtlety that already features an enviable client who’s who list, you don’t want your image to be diminished.
• Identify your brand adjacencies. While building your brand today, do not dismiss what it could be a decade down the line. You likely have unidentified talents. Or, your brand/business may be utilized in a way you haven’t yet considered.
• Scale your brand. EVERY brand needs to remain relevant to remain sustainable. To be sustainable, your brand needs to be scalable. Your ability to deliver consistent performance at a high level is what leads to brand sustainability. Assess who will help you be accountable for the achievement of your goals and the continued sustainability of your brand. On a personal level, that person may be a personal trainer; businesswise, it could be a promising employee. 

Negocios Now announces the first list of Latinos 40 Under 40

   Negocios Now announces today their first list of Latinos 40 Under 40 in Chicago, to be celebrated with a special digital edition and an event in February.

   The 40 talented Latinos were selected after a three-month nomination period, and they represent business, government, nonprofits, politics, sports and education, among other fields

   “Just as we had anticipated, the honorees are young Latinos with tremendous talent who not only give their legacy for the Hispanic community, but for society as a whole,” said Clemente Nicado, publisher and editor-in-chief of Nicado Publishing Company, owner of Negocios Now. “They are the present and the future of this city and we are very proud to have them as part of our first list of Latinos 40 Under 40 in Chicago.

“Many of them are millennials, a segment very important to Negocios Now, which, since its foundation in 2007, has made an effort to be a bridge between different generations in the Hispanic community,” Nicado continued.

To celebrate the achievements of this younger generation of Latino trailblazers who are making their mark on Chicago, Negocios Now is organizing a presentation and networking event Feb. 18 at Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron St., in Chicago.

The inaugural members of the Latino 40 Under 40 in Chicago cohort are on Negocios Now web site.

Nicado Publishing launched with resounding success the first Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago two years ago, publishing a Negocios Now special edition and hosting a gala event to recognize the Latino leadership in various fields.

Founded in 2007, Negocios Now is a national award-winning publication and the Midwest’s most dynamic news source for growing Hispanic businesses, focusing primarily on business owners, entrepreneurs and economic development in the Latino community.

Negocios Now has received 12 awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP). In May 2012, The Chicago Headline Club, a leading association of local professional journalists, awarded Negocios Now the Peter Lisagor Award for General Excellence, a first for a Hispanic newspaper in Chicago.

llinois Utilities Host Think Tank Forum for Diverse Supplier Businesses

Newly Formed Illinois Utility Business Diversity Council Focuses on Increasing Partnerships with Diverse Businesses in Illinois    
CHICAGO – The recently formed Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council (IUBDC) held its inaugural event centered on creating strategies to increase business opportunities for diverse suppliers through closer collaboration, technical development and sharing of best practices.
   More than 20 diverse businesses participated in the half-day event that kicked off with a luncheon discussion between the suppliers and Illinois advocacy groups, including Rhonda Carter, president and CEO, Mid-States Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Omar Duque, president and CEO, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Vincent Gilbert, regional V.P., Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce; Georgia Marsh, chief development officer, Women’s Business Development Center; Sheila Hill-Morgan, president and CEO, Chicago Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Jorge Perez, executive director, Hispanic American Construction Industry Association and John Scifers, president, Elite Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Network, Illinois Chapter.
    The day’s activities also included panel discussions providing information about best practices, navigating diverse supplier processes and creating awareness of opportunities for suppliers to work together. It concluded with a networking event where the diverse business participants mingled with company representatives, advocacy leaders and panel participants.
   “Through our commitment to the IUBDC, we will enhance our individual business diversity efforts, make a greater impact in fueling our state’s economy, and honor the core values of each of our companies,” said Melvin D. Williams, president of Nicor Gas and chair of the board of directors of the IUBDC.  Board members also include: Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd; Bruce Hauk, president of Illinois American Water, Richard Mark, president of Ameren Illinois and Charles Matthews, president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.
    The Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council members include Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Illinois American Water, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas and Peoples Gas. In 2015, these companies have spent nearly $830 million with diverse businesses.
   “Certified diverse-owned suppliers bring different perspectives and insights and help us drive innovation and create solutions to meet the changing needs and interests of customers,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO of ComEd. “Expanding our network of diverse suppliers, vendors and service providers is key to our overall effort to establish diversity as a business imperative, core value and moral obligation. ComEd is proud to be a member of the IUBDC and we look forward to continuing to bring programs and forums like today’s event to advance the effectiveness of business diversity initiatives in Illinois.”

5 Tips For Staying (Almost) Stress Free During The Holidays


HINA.-  The calendar doesn’t lie and already you may feel the stress starting to build.

The holidays are approaching, bringing with them a flurry of must-accomplish tasks such as baking, shopping, entertaining, traveling and dealing with eccentric family members who arrive ready to renew decades-old arguments.

So how can you endure without all those stress-inducing moments ruining your health and sapping your holiday spirit?

First off, don’t stress about the fact you feel stressed, says Dr. Donna L. Hamilton, author of “Wellness Your Way: The Short and Sweet Guide to Creating Your Custom Plan for a Happier, Healthier Life” (www.wellnessyourwaybook.com).

“Stress is pervasive,” Dr. Hamilton says. “Stress is a fact of life. And stress isn’t even always bad. Some people need a certain amount of stress to function optimally.”

At its core, holiday stress is just like any stress, only with burnt sugar cookies and interminable waits at the retail-checkout line involved.

Dr. Hamilton offers these five tips to help you feel less stressed as you navigate your way through holiday hassles.

Connect with the spirit of gratitude that marks the season.  Research shows that expressing gratitude can help improve mood, increase energy levels, relieve stress and increase motivation, Dr. Hamilton says. So look for reasons to be grateful during the holidays, whether it’s being thankful for good health, a rewarding career, a loving family or some other positive in your life.

Pause for a moment. Remember to take a few deep, relaxing breaths throughout the day no matter how you are feeling. Even positive emotions like excitement and enthusiasm can create stress in the body, just like typical stress emotions such as anger and frustration do, Dr. Hamilton says. That’s why it’s important to periodically do something that promotes relaxation during active times.

Make sure you get enough sleep. Your body needs its rest and a lack of sleep makes it more difficult to deal with the stressful situations you might face through the holidays. With parties to attend, travel schedules to plan and gifts to wrap, it’s easy to trim back the amount of time you normally spend sleeping. Be careful not to let that happen, Dr. Hamilton says.

Take a walk after you eat. This works two ways for you. It helps relax you and is good exercise. “A nice walk is a good way to separate yourself from the pressures you might be feeling,” Dr. Hamilton says.

Dance and laugh often. They both burn calories and help lift your mood. “We probably can’t do enough of either of these,” Dr. Hamilton says.

Many people feel the need to do something for others during the holiday season, but Dr. Hamilton says it’s important to remember as you bake pies, wrap gifts or hang decorations that you also must pay attention to your own physical and mental needs.

“You can’t give from an empty cup,” Dr. Hamilton says. “Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury.”

*Dr. Donna L. Hamilton is Chief Wellness Officer and owner of Manifest Excellence, LLC. She also is author of “Wellness Your Way: The Short and Sweet Guide to Creating Your Custom Plan for a Happier, Healthier Life” (www.wellnessyourwaybook.com). Dr. Hamilton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Virginia, and received a Master of Science degree in Zoology at Rutgers University. She then did medical research at New York University Medical School prior to attending medical school. After receiving her Doctorate of Medicine degree from Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Dr. Hamilton completed her pediatric residency at the University of Minnesota. She has shifted from her career as a board-certified pediatrician and now speaks nationally about holistically improving health and well-being.

Rauners selects Arabel Alva Rosales Board of Director of CTA

Governor Bruce Rauner has selected Arabel Alva Rosales to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Board of Directors.

“She is an entrepreneur, a leader in the Hispanic community and has 15 years of state government experience”, Rauner said.

Currently, Rosales is the president and CEO of A. Alva Rosales & Associates, which is a technology firm specializing in project management, technology-based marketing and developing technology infrastructure.

Rosales served the State of Illinois in a number of different positions from 1990 to 2005. Most recently, she was a Commissioner on the Illinois Human Rights Commission. She was also the Director of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. Under former Governor Jim Edgar, she served as a Senior Policy Adviser on Urban Issues and as an Assistant to the Governor on Women’s Issues and Hispanic Affairs.

Rosales earned her bachelor’s degree from Mundelein College at Loyola University and a law degree from DePaul University. She also holds an executive certificate from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Little Village Chamber of Commerce Elects Mario Galindo Board President

The Little Village Chamber of Commerce (LVCC) announced its changes to  their board of directors. Mario Galindo was elected as Board President. Galindo wins over Julio Rodriguez as Board President, and will serve a 2 year term.

Galindo is the owner of Dot Press, a printing company that has been in business for more than 10 years and is equipped with a team of creative designers and flexible printing capabilities.

Raiza Mendoza, a board member for the past 4 years and who is Manager of Hispanic Affairs for the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, has been elected Vice President joint Galindo in their new roles. Each board member brings a unique skill set to the Board of Directors. They help guide the Little Village Chamber of Commerce with its goal of promoting and serving the Little Village business community.

Rodriguez has expressed being very proud of been the LVCC president for the past 3 years and is looking forward to his new role as chairman and to dedicate more time to his candy and piñata stores known in Chicago as Dulcelandia.

Jaime di Paulo Executive Director congratulated Galindo and Mendoza for their new roles and thanked Rodriguez for his leadership during his tenure as Board President.


Rauner nominates Hugo Chaviano to lead Department of Labor

Governor Rauner nominated Cuban lawyer Hugo Chaviano to take the reins of the Department of Labor, the most important Latino appointment after Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.

Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Chaviano is a Partner in the 40-attorney, Chicago-based firm of Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman, LLP, the largest minority owned law firm in Illinois. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and Northwestern University of Law.

“I am honored to have been asked by Governor Bruce Rauner to be part of his cabinet and be the first Hispanic to head the Illinois Department of Labor as its director,” Chaviano told Negocios Now. “It has been a long journey for me.”

Chaviano arrived in the United States at 13, when he couldn’t speak English. He has since become licensed to practice law in Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania, building a successful career as an attorney.

He has represented Fortune 500 companies, large financial institutions and others in civil litigation, and he has focused his practice on complex business and legal issues at both the national and international levels concerning insurance and reinsurance matters, products liability, construction, breach of contract, employment, errors and omissions, as well as joint ventures, franchise agreements, risk management, negotiations and alternative dispute resolution.

Chaviano has served on several boards, including many that serve or represent the Latino community. He has also worked as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law and received numerous awards for his service. He calls his nomination to lead the Department of Labor the “culmination and realization of the American Dream.”


Bringing Tech to Schools

When Caroline Sanchez Crozier thinks back to starting her business 26 years ago, she chuckles and says “ignorance is bliss.”
The mother of two had left the corporate world for a more flexible work schedule as a consultant and decided it was time to incorporate. Her prior experience was in accounting but working with a company that brought technology to schools sparked a passion that had begun to grow when her children entered city schools and gave her first-hand experience with the holes in the system.
She decided to start her company, then known as Computer Services & Consulting Inc., to help schools incorporate technology in the classroom. Back in 1988, she had no background in technology or education.
“I went in with full, dedicated commitment to make a difference, not knowing what I didn’t know,” Crozier said.
The business eventually branched into two entities, CSC Learning and CSC Technology Services. The first helps schools leverage their technology acquisitions to better serve students on tight budgets and the other helps organizations manage their networks. About half of the team is focused on the tech side while the other half is stacked with education experts and former practitioners who can help teachers and schools incorporate technology in the right way, to improve student outcomes.
Crozier calls herself a converted educator. She is passionate about the need for better educational opportunities for all students, particularly those in urban areas. Much of her time these days is spent contributing her insights on volunteer boards and committees.
“I like to think we can all make a difference in our world,” Crozier said. “We can all be a part of the solution. That’s my philosophy and the philosophy of the people I bring on board.”
Crozier’s team grew to include 25 people making more than $1 million in sales in the first five years. There have been ups and downs, times when the company scaled back and she even thought about closing, but CSC Learning now serves more than 400 schools in the Midwest, Arizona and Mexico City. CSC Technology Services helps government bodies, healthcare organizations and school districts – most notably Chicago Public Schools – with IT and network needs.
In such a fast-moving field, Crozier has had to adapt constantly to keep up. The original business focused on bringing Apple computers to schools. Today, Crozier’s team starts the conversation with schools using their existing technology as the foundation. It is assumed schools have certain devices. The question is how to use them.
Technology helps facilitate personalized instruction. Crozier’s team trains teachers to use data to track student progress and offers curriculum products and ideas that incorporate technology.
“Building partnerships for student success” is the business’ tagline. Crozier’s chief role is forging new partnerships and creating a diverse community of stakeholders to be part of the solution. For her, that means the business community, too.
“Businesses benefit most from a future workforce that is prepared,” Crozier said, “but I still think that school districts function in silos, in many ways.”

For Crozier, changing that and improving education opportunities for others has always been a personal mission. She moved here from Michoacán, Mexico with her parents and 10 siblings when she was 8 years old. As the fifth child,

Crozier was the first to go to college and feels privileged she had that opportunity. All of her younger siblings followed suit, as did her two children.
Many in Crozier’s family have contributed to CSC in one way or another over the years, including her husband who has been her business partner for 21 years, and other nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and her two kids.
Her cause, or “calling,” is making a meaningful difference in education. Whether it’s during the workday or through her various volunteer projects, Crozier is determined to contribute to the national conversation about how to make schools better.
“ It’s overwhelming when you start to think about all the challenges,” Crozier said, “but I am an optimist.”

Negocios Now Latinas in Business of the Year

Here’s a partnership that has thrived while giving back. Prado & Renteria is the largest Hispanic owned CPA firm in Illinois, and it provides service to national and even international clients.

In business for nearly 25 years, Prado & Renteria serves the unique needs of its clients by offering innovative financial management solutions for an ever-changing marketplace. Deeply invested in its community, the firm is a stellar example of how a Latinas-led business led can succeed through determination and hard work.

Maria Prado e Hilda Renteria received the Award “Latinas in Business of the Year” during Negocios Now Who is Who Gala Event, at Chicago Cultural Center. To see Prado & Renteria video, click here.








David Hernandez: From Cuba to Liberty Power

By Clemente Nicado, Publisher & Editor in Chief

The meteoric rise of entrepreneur David Hernandez began with bad news in December 2001, when his energy industry employer filed for bankruptcy. The Cuban immigrant used the opportunity to finish the business plan for what would eventually form Liberty Power.

  The company he co-founded with Alberto Daire was born in an adverse environment. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the country was suffering from a credit crisis, growing unemployment, a volatile energy market, and widespread economic uncertainty. It was hardly an ideal time to start a business, but Hernandez and his partner remembered the phrase, “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” or, as they say in English, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
   The insight he gained at his former employer helped him spot opportunity and gave him the experience needed to meet future challenges successfully. “At that company I learned about the deregulation of the energy industry and how firms were fighting to eliminate the monopoly that existed in one of the most important economic sectors: the energy sector,” Hernandez recalls.
Working in the company’s wholesale and retail electrical services trading division, he realized there was a market niche that wasn’t being adequately served within the highly competitive energy industry. “While other companies within the industry went after large-scale customers, no one was providing service to small and mid-sized customers,” he says.
   This was the logic that drove the creation of Liberty Power, a leading Hispanic enterprise that provides electricity to businesses, government agencies and consumers nationwide. Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale and with an office in Chicago, its 2012 revenue exceeded $700 million.
   The co-founder and CEO of Liberty Power immigrated to the United States as a young boy, and he shared his parents’ enthusiasm for the potential this country offered. But he soon learned that an entrepreneurial spirit was not enough; he also would need to study. His motivation earned him the distinction of being the first in his family of seven siblings to finish college. Hernandez graduatedmagna cum laude from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida with a bachelor of science degree in accounting and earned an MBA from New York University — all before undertaking his electrifying business venture with Alberto Daire, president of Liberty Power.
What specifically does Liberty Power do?
    Liberty Power is a retail electricity supplier, which means we supply electricity to end-user consumers in restructured or deregulated energy markets where consumers can shop for their electricity supply like any other product or service. We work with the local distribution company to deliver our customers’ electricity over the utility’s poles and wires. In most markets the customer still receives one bill separated into two main parts – supply and delivery. The supply portion is what they purchased from Liberty Power, while the fees for delivery service go to the local distribution company (Con Ed in the Chicago area).
Can you explain the reasons behind your company’s success?
Liberty Power is an entrepreneurial company. Our competitive edge is our nimbleness which sets us apart from our competitors, many of which have parent companies in the Fortune 500. As the company continues to grow, we continue to maintain a small business atmosphere where we can quickly shift resources and focus in order to capitalize on opportunities that arise across our national footprint. Larger companies are often set in their ways and don’t react and evolve as quickly as Liberty Power.
What were the greatest challenges Liberty Power faced, and what are the biggest challenges of today’s marketplace?
We faced many challenges over the years, from risking every cent we had to start the business to discovering additional obstacles along the way within the industry. The nature of doing business in today’s energy markets provides a variety of challenges. We’ve dealt with a credit crunch, hurricanes and other extreme weather events, regulatory uncertainty, and ever-changing market conditions, just to name a few. A large part of the value Liberty Power provides is insulating our customers from these types of risks and headaches. We are blessed to have a smart and experienced team to navigate Liberty Power through these challenges while protecting our customers.
How can Hispanic businesses take advantage of Liberty Power’s services?
Businesses both large and small, Hispanic or non-Hispanic, can take advantage of Liberty Power by simply calling us at 1-866-POWER-99 (1-866-769-3799) or visiting our website atwww.libertypowercorp.com. One of our energy consultants will evaluate your energy needs and help determine the product that works best for your individual situation. Electricity is often one of the largest costs in running a business, so it is definitely worth the time to shop around and find the company and product that works best for you.
How important is Chicago in your expansion strategy?
More broadly speaking, Illinois is a very important market to Liberty Power as well as in the energy industry overall. We first entered this market in 2007 when many consumers weren’t even aware that they could shop for electricity supply. Today, over 3 million accounts (representing the majority of accounts) in Illinois have switched away from the utility. We will continue to strengthen and grow our business in Illinois in the future.
Speaking of your expansion goals, what is “the sky” for Liberty Power?
Historically, Liberty Power has been what the industry calls a “pure play” electric retailer. Our focus has always been in buying electricity in wholesale commodity markets at the lowest possible price and then passing those savings along to our customers. We continue to evaluate expanding our operations into other areas of the value chain, such as generation, as well as look toward expanding our current suite of products and services. Our ultimate vision is to be the preferred choice for innovative retail energy services and solutions.
Liberty Power has made an impact on the community through scholarship programs and other efforts. How important is it for the company to support its community?
Liberty Power believes in the importance of supporting the community. Having experienced so much good fortune of our own over the years, giving back is a rewarding way to help others. One area Liberty Power is very passionate about is preparing our youth for the challenges and opportunities of the future, which is why we created the Liberty Power Bright Horizons Scholarship in 2013. Through this alliance with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and the USHCC Foundation, Liberty Power has committed to providing $100,000 in college scholarships over a span of five years, with a focus on rewarding students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
As one of the most successful Hispanic entrepreneurs in the country, what advice can you share with other entrepreneurs?
Two keys to success that I’d like to share include: Do something you are passionate about. The most successful people in life are simply following their passions. Secondly, make sure you have the right people on your team. At Liberty Power we look for people that are humble, hungry, smart, and share the company’s vision.

A quick ride to the top for James Cabrera’s building-services firm

 UBM Facility Services, Inc. is on the rise yet again.


The Hispanic-owned building-maintenance titan was founded in 1979 as a humble carpet-cleaning company with just one truck and one machine — along with a single, laser-focus: to provide quality service and settle for nothing short of total client satisfaction.

That philosophy clearly has paid off.

Carol Stream, Ill.-based UBM today serves more than 1,000 clients, including Fortune 500 companies, schools, office buildings, refineries, banks, manufacturing plants and utilities. The company employs some 2,000 people, working to provide janitorial, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), painting, snow removal as well as landscaping, among other services.

Now add to all that elevator maintenance and repair. Founder and Chief Executive James S. Cabrera, who has overseen UBM’s rise to become the largest Hispanic-owned and operated facility-management company in the Midwest, joined forces in January with longtime Otis Elevator Company executive Freddy Flores to create UBM Elevator Solutions.

Flores is president of the new unit, which provides preventative maintenance and code testing as well as equipment-retrofit and repair services. UBM Elevator Solutions, given the parent company’s stellar reputation, is well-positioned to compete with longstanding rivals such as Otis, ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG and Chicago-area-based Colley Elevator Co.

Flores admits he had a certain initial ignorance about the industry before joining it. All he knew about elevators back then, he says with a grin, was that “you got in them, you pressed the button and you went.”

But he proved a quick study after graduating from the University of Illinois and “went to apply for a company that was an elevator company and I got the job as a clerical person.”

He subsequently earned an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and quickly advanced at Otis, where he worked for more than two decades in various facets of sales and operations.

Last year a mutual client suggested Cabrera and Flores consider teaming up to create the new unit.

“It seemed to be a unique niche for us to pursue,” Cabrera says about UBM’s latest foray. “We met Freddy,” and the two executives quickly hit it off. “Freddy had an entrepreneurial spirit. He wanted to partner with somebody like us, someone who had our name, brand and our integrity in the marketplace. So it made a lot of sense. We sat down together, became friends — and then we became business partners.”

Creating UBM Elevator Solutions continues the parent company’s ongoing expansion of facility services. UBM launched its HVAC unit about three and a half years ago and since has become one of the largest HVAC firms in the area. A year and half ago, UBM added a union painting operation. And, since January, elevator maintenance and repair.

It’s all part of a well-designed growth plan.

“Janitorial doesn’t really have a barrier to entry. It is very easy to get into the janitorial business,” Cabrera says. “But it’s not easy to be an HVAC company. It’s not easy to get into union. It’s not easy to get into elevator-maintenance services.”

But in such niches, “the marketplace allows for a little bit more margin at the end of the day. We want to find areas where we can continue to build on our brand and the integrity that we have in the marketplace and offer our customers additional value-added services. It is a strategy that we want to implement to support our brand as a whole.

“Like us, Freddy truly believes in serving the customer. That’s the most important thing, providing maximum service, and that is something we do very well. He’s got the same motto, the same philosophy, and that’s what is important. That is why we are who we are; that is how we’ve grown into what we’ve become. It doesn’t matter what we do, we’re going to do it well.”

And not just in business. Cabrera is a former member of the board of directors of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, and in his nearly three-decade leadership capacity he has helped Chicago-area minority enterprises travel the road to success.

Cabrera and Flores also share a commitment to the community at large.

The Cabreras, Flores notes, “are a very respected family. They do a lot for the community. They’re involved on a lot of boards. They give back a lot and that’s really important to me.

“We have a lot in common in that regard. We care about other people. It’s not just about the business. The business will be there, the profits will be there, but we also want to give back to the community and make the community grow.”

Giving others a lift.  That certainly seems a natural fit for the partners at UBM Elevator Solutions.

Hispanic-Owned Businesses in Illinois: Untapped Economic & Job Creation Potential

By Omar A. Duque, President and CEO of IHCC

CHICAGO–It’s no secret that Hispanics contribute significantly to the US economy, but a new report on Hispanic-owned businesses in Illinois shows Hispanic businesses face unique challenges, but have the potential to generate an additional $67 billion in revenues and create 200,000 jobs for Illinois residents. 

The Report, The State of Hispanic-Owned Businesses in Illinois: Untapped Economic & Job Creation Potential, was conducted by DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business in partnership with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 


While there’s significant potential, the reality is that Hispanic-owned businesses are small.  The report shows that Hispanic-owned businesses currently employ 50 percent less people than other businesses in Illinois.  They earn less too, on average about $182,747 in business revenue compared with $1,370,694 for all other Illinois businesses.  And Hispanic businesses comprise a small percentage, only five percent, of all companies in Illinois. 

But it’s not all bad news.  Hispanic businesses are growing faster than other businesses.  Between 2002 and 2007, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 43 percent and the total number of people employed by Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 28 percent.  Today, there are more than 70,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Illinois, employing more than 100,000 people and generating more than $15 billion in annual revenue. 


The Hispanic community is at a critical place.  Today, there are more than 2.1 million Hispanics in Illinois, representing 16.3 percent of the Illinois population.  In Chicago, 45 percent of public school students are Hispanic and one out of every three new births in Illinois is Hispanic.  By 2050 Hispanics will comprise one-third of the US population.

Improving educational outcomes is essential.  Hispanics continue to lag in higher educational success.  Nationally, fewer than 20 percent of Hispanics 25 years and older hold a bachelor’s degree.  According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, 95 percent of successful entrepreneurs they surveyed had earned a bachelor’s degree and 47 percent had more advanced degrees. 

Of the businesses we surveyed, 75 percent have a bachelor’s degree and 25 percent have obtained an advanced degree.  Yet these businesses say they still need additional business training.  Hispanic-owned businesses surveyed as part of our report listed financial challenges as their biggest barrier to growth, citing the need for training and assistance.


Whether the rest of America cares to acknowledge it, the future of our country depends on the educational and economic success of Hispanics.  We need significant investment to help address critical issues while we work to increase the number of Hispanic-owned businesses and begin to close the earning gap for existing Hispanic-owned businesses. 

According to the report, if existing Hispanic-owned businesses grew revenues and earned the average of all other Illinois firms, collectively Hispanic-owned businesses would increase revenues by more than $67 billion and would employ 200,000 more Illinois residents.

This won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen without concerted effort to bridge that earnings gap.  But if collectively we can make progress, one business at a time, the economic benefits for Illinois will be significant.


That’s why the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is pleased to launch the Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship (www.HispanicCenter.biz).  The Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship will provide unique business, economic development and entrepreneurial education programs to increase the success of Hispanic entrepreneurs. 

For example, in 2014 the Center for Hispanic Entrepreneurship will launch ENTERpreneur, an innovative program for high school students that seeks to activate the talent and natural entrepreneurial inclination of Hispanic youth.  The program will help develop leadership and problem solving skills and will focus on college admission and success, helping build the next generation of Hispanic business leaders.


We believe that Hispanics will lead a new era of prosperity for America.  That’s what drives our work.  We’re dedicated to helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, increase revenues and create jobs.  We’re committed to addressing the unique needs of Hispanic business owners, working one-on-one with them to develop strategic growth plans and connecting them with the capital they need to build strong and successful businesses.  And we’re committed to helping Hispanic youth succeed in college so that they too can become thriving professionals and entrepreneurs. 



USHCC Foundation, Group O award scholarship to Hispanic MBA student

Marcus Arroyo received $10,000 scholarship

The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Group O awarded a $10,000 scholarship to Marcus Arroyo, an MBA student at the University of Notre Dame and a Navy lieutenant.

Announced September 17 during the USHCC’s 34th Annual National Convention in Chicago, the scholarship is the first of five annual awards stemming from a $50,000 commitment by Group O, a business process outsourcing provider that ranks among the largest Latino-owned businesses in the nation.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Arroyo earned the rank of lieutenant during his seven years in the Navy. He served aboard ship in Japan and at a joint service IT communications facility in Germany. Upon completing his MBA studies, Arroyo plans to pursue a career in technology consulting.

“I am so thankful for the opportunity that Group O and the USHCC have afforded me.” Arroyo said. “Being awarded this year’s scholarship is not only symbolic of their generosity, but also of the strong business community that Hispanics continue to forge. The award has helped ease the costs of my MBA program, and it has emboldened me even more to support the Hispanic community throughout my professional career. I am very excited about the path ahead, and I know I too will soon be paying it forward.”

USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez said the Chamber applauds Group O for doing its part to help grow tomorrow’s business leaders. “These scholarships will allow young people to attain higher education, placing them one step closer to fulfilling their dreams,” Palomarez said.

Group O CEO Gregg Ontiveros said his company’s support of promising post-graduate students is a prudent investment in the future of this country and beyond.

“Our philosophy is that everyone wins when people are given an opportunity to show what they can do,” Ontiveros said. “The next generation of Hispanic business leaders will need to be prepared to lead and compete on a global level, and we’re excited to partner with USHCC to help make that happen.”

Headquartered in Milan, Ill., Group O employs more than 1,500 and specializes in marketing services, business analytics, supply chain operations and strategic packaging solutions. It is a Corporate Plus member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, a National Minority Supplier of the Year honoree, and it is recognized by the USHCC as a Top 5 Latino-owned Business.

Luis Gutierrez: A guiding light for Latino progress

Luis Gutiérrez is a name shared name by two prominent local figures in the pro-immigrant movement: Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D – Illinois) and the Mexican community activist and educator José Luis Gutiérrez.

However, our Luis Gutiérrez does not plan on changing his name.

“Don’t get confused. I’m the younger one; I’m 40,” he says with a laugh. “Each has his own area to develop his talent, and mine is definitely not politics.”

Nonprofit organizations are the specialty for this Chicagoan, born and raised in Little Village (La Villita).

In 1997, when he was just 24 years old, Gutiérrez founded Latinos Progresando, which helps Latino immigrants navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system. Nearly 16 years later, it holds the distinction of being, the largest family-based immigration legal services agency led by Latino in the State of Illinois, Gutiérrez says.

“We help all people equally, be it a Mexican seeking U.S. citizenship, a Guatemalan filing an immigrant petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) so that his or her mother can come from Guatemala to the United States, or a young person filing a Deferred Action request,” Gutiérrez explains.

Latinos Progresando also offers university scholarships for Undocumented students, and there is even a theatre company where young people can “share their immigrant experiences,” he adds.

Furthermore, Gutiérrez brought together 15 nonprofit organizations under a group called the Marshall Square Resource Network. “We meet once a month to discuss issues that affect the community and to grow as organizations,” says Gutiérrez of the network, established in 2010.

Illinois General Assembly Rep. Silvana Tabares (D – 21st District) and Chicago Alderman George Cárdenas (D – 12th Ward) both have met with the network “in order to inform us about how we, as organizations, can work with the support of their offices,” Gutiérrez explains.

The origins of Gutiérrez’s involvement in community service trace back to the early 1990s, when a friend invited him to volunteer at a citizenship workshop in Piotrowski Park.

“I was surprised to see so many youth volunteers helping older people fill out citizenship applications,” Gutiérrez says. “Those adults reminded me of my own parents. It made me happy; it opened up my heart.”

Originally from Mexico, Gutiérrez’s parents taught him lessons that go beyond his degree in nonprofit management from DePaul University. “They taught me to respect and help other people, just as other people helped them when they first arrived in the United States,” he says.

Their teachings – and his visit to Piotrowski Park – prompted him to quit his job as a Burger King manager and launch Latinos Progresando. He quickly learned the challenges inherent in running a non profit organization.

“It isn’t just about motivating your team, but rather it’s more about making your organization grow through donations. It’s very difficult,” he says.

However, Gutiérrez says he has been fortunate in his drive to keep Latinos Progresando and its mission intact.

“I have always heard other people say, ‘People don’t give.’ That has never been my experience. There has always been someone willing to help us out, either as a volunteer or through a donation,” Gutiérrez says.

Last January, the foundation celebrated its 15th year.

“Latinos Progresando would never have reached 15 years without the support of its volunteers, of educational institutes, and of the African American and white communities as well,” Gutiérrez says. “We are the reflection of the efforts of a united Chicago.”

Much like Gutiérrez and Latinos Progresando helps Latinos in need of legal services; ComEd is dedicated to helping its customers during financial hardships. That’s why, through the ComEd CARE programs, we offer a range of financial assistance programs to help qualified customers with paying their electric bills, and we support energy-assistance programs that help those in need.

Liberty Power awards $20,000 in scholarships at USHCC convention

Liberty Power, the nation’s largest independent retail electric supplier, announced the winners of its inaugural Liberty Power Bright Horizons Scholarship program. A result of a collaborative effort between Liberty Power and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Foundation, the scholarship program awarded three college students a total of $20,000 at the USHCC National Convention held Sept. 15-17 in Chicago.

The program is geared toward eligible college students pursuing educations in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with an interest in energy or environmental careers. The selection committee awarded one $10,000 grand prize and two runner-up prizes of $5,000 each. The recipients were honored by David Hernandez, co-founder and CEO of Liberty Power, and the USHCC during the convention’s closing gala Sept. 17.

The $10,000 scholarship was awarded to Tatiana Narvaez, who is earning her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Rice University.

“I am honored to be a recipient of Liberty Power’s Bright Horizons Scholarship mostly because I can be a role model to other Hispanic women pursuing careers in engineering,” Narvaez said. “This award not only gives me a sense of accomplishment for all my hard work, but it also helps me continue my goal in providing the future’s energy as well as protecting the environment, and for that I am thankful.”

The two $5,000 scholarships were awarded to Jonathan Taylor Fairey, an undergraduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in industrial and systems engineering, and Lawrence Valverde, who is earning his doctorate degree in materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I’ve always been intrigued by energy and how it is generated and transmitted and how it affects the environment,” Fairey said. “With the support of this scholarship, I look forward to continuing my education and pursuing a career in energy.”

“Receiving the Bright Horizons Scholarship carries great meaning for me,” Valverde said. “As a young Hispanic pursuing graduate studies in STEM fields, I hope to inspire and provide confidence to my younger peers to pursue careers in STEM as well.”

“I was very impressed with our first-ever group of Bright Horizons Scholarship winners; it has been a privilege spending time with them,” Hernandez said. “We are delighted to partner with the USHCC Foundation as we continue to support bright young minds pursuing their educational goals.”

Marc Rodriguez, USHCC Chairman of the Board, said: “Liberty Power’s devotion to our nation’s foremost duty – preparing our youth for the challenges and opportunities of the future – is commendable, and we are honored to partner with them in this endeavor.”

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Liberty Power is the first certified minority-owned supplier with a national footprint and the largest Hispanic-owned energy company in the United States according to Hispanic Business.

We did it Chicago!

Promise is promise. As many bet, Chicago celebrated a fantastic Latino Business party. With it’s national convention, The United State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) paved the way to the success for thousands Entrepreneurs who came to the Windy City looking for opportunities.

That’s what they found. From September 15-17 the Hilton Chicago Hotel was synonymy of business with its famous match making, workshops and all kind of connexions in the high level. It’s was mean business, education to grow, a unique (or very special) networking event where you recounts with old friends, meet a new one, talk and shake the hands to the leaders and decision makers. It wasn’t easy the achievement, but we worked like a team, and yes, we did it!

NegociosNow wins Gold award in the NAHP’s 31st annual José Martí Publishing Contest

(OCTOBER 2013, CHICAGO) – NegociosNow, the flagship publication of Chicago-based Nicado Publishing Co., was awarded the first-place Gold prize by the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) at its convention held in September at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. Now in its 31st year, the award is the top honor issued in the annual José Martí Publishing Awards program organized by the NAHP.

The bilingual publication is unique in the country and has been awarded seven national prizes since 2007, including the Peter Lisagor Award for General Excellence by the Chicago Headline Club in 2012. In September 2013, the business paper received special recognition from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at its national convention in Chicago for its contributions to the Hispanic business community.

“This award encourages us to continue our efforts to deliver a paper at a high professional level and focused on the development of small business,” said Clemente Nicado, NegociosNow Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. “I am dedicating this prize to all who have contributed to making this dream a reality.”

The prize for “Outstanding Business Article” went to a piece published by Nicado entitled “Y Adela Cepeda llegará a los 100 billones” (Adela Cepeda to reach $100 billion), written at the time that Ms. Cepeda, owner of AC Advisory, a bond investment firm, reached this volume of financial transactions.

Nicado added: “I also want to recognize that this award is also due to the support from sponsors who have recognized NegociosNow as a vehicle to reach the emerging Hispanic business community through useful and well-written content, as well as excellent design.”

NegociosNow’s sponsors include Comcast, United Airlines, BMO Harris Bank, Sprint, Wintrust Financial Corp., Verizon, Liberty Power, American Family Insurance and State Farm, among others.

About the National Association of Hispanic Publications

Founded in 1982 to promote Spanish language publications, the NAHP is a non-partisan trade advocacy organization representing the leading Spanish language publications, which boast a combined circulation of more than 23 million and serve 41 market in 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

About Nicado Publishing Co.

Nicado Publishing was launched in 2006 with a strong focus on Hispanic niche markets. The company owns NegociosNow, a Hispanic business publication (www.negociosnow.com); El Chicago Hispano, a community newspaper; Hispanic Writing Services (www.hispanicwriting.com); and the Hispanic Business Directory (www.negociosnowdirectory.com). Nicado served as an international press correspondent in multiple countries during his career. Since 2008, he has received more than 15 national awards.

For additional information please contact Ms. Kelly Yelemene at (312) 593-2557.

HBE Cabrera Capital Markets helps underwrite $350M Toyota bond issue


Chicago-based investment bank Cabrera Capital Markets – a Hispanic Business Enterprise (HBE) – is one of five institutions selected by Toyota Financial Services as lead underwriters on the auto maker’s new $350 million Diversity & Inclusion bond issue.
Toyota Financial Services (TFS) announced the deal on Sept. 19, noting that its Diversity & Inclusion Bond is a key component of the company’s comprehensive funding program. TFS issued its first Diversity & Inclusion Bond in January 2013 to positive response from investors, banks and other issuers. This second issuance builds on the program’s success and highlights TFS’ corporate initiatives, supplementing its focus on diversity inside and outside the workplace.
Cabrera Capital Markets shared lead underwriting duties with minority-owned firms CastleOak Securities LP; Drexel Hamilton; Muriel Siebert & Co., and Toussaint Capital Partners. TFS said it anticipates similar transactions in the future, which will strengthen Toyota’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
“We want to thank Toyota Motors for allowing Cabrera Capital to participate as a Joint Lead Book runner on their recent $350 million bond issue,” said Cabrera CEO Martin Cabrera. “Toyota has always been committed to diversity and inclusion and has been a great partner of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). It has been a great experience working with Toyota’s team, and we look forward to continue working with them in the future.”
Since its launch, the Diversity and Inclusion Bond has allowed TFS to diversify its investor base, and it provided opportunities for minority-owned firms to strengthen strategic client relationships and increase participation in high-profile deals. TFS has worked with other Hispanic-owned firms in the past, including Ramirez & Co., which served as a lead runner on past transactions.
“The USHCC is proud of Toyota’s unparalleled leadership on corporate diversity and inclusion,” said USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez. “TFS’ Diversity & Inclusion Bond is a game changer, which proves once again that diversifying your supply chain is a sound and profitable business practice. Cabrera Capital Markets is a longstanding partner of the USHCC, and their stellar track record of successful management of multimillion-dollar transactions for top-tier clients makes this firm a natural choice as one of Toyota’s leading partners for TFS’ latest endeavor.”
TFS’ commitment to diversity and inclusion – including philanthropic endeavors, associate training programs and other diversity initiatives – has led to its repeated recognition by DiversityInc, Black Enterprise, Hispanic Business, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Citi, the transaction’s stabilizing lead bank, shares a long-standing relationship with TFS and is equally committed to diversity. “Citi commends Toyota for its leadership in promoting diversity and inclusion throughout the industry, which is expanding the experience of underwriters and the depth of investors,” said Peter Aherne, Head of North America Capital Markets, Syndicate and New Products at Citi. “We are proud to again collaborate with Toyota to bring diversity and inclusion bonds to the market.”
Love & Long LLP, a minority- and woman-owned law firm, is acting as co-issuer’s counsel along with Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. O’Melveny & Myers LLP is serving as underwriters’ counsel.
Cabrera Capital Markets is no stranger to big deals. The investment bank served as one of the underwriters for Facebook’s initial public offering in May 2012. Characterized by the media as a “cultural touchstone”, the IPO was among the biggest ever in the tech sector and the largest in Internet history. Facebook’s market capitalization topped $100 billion in August 2013 and was just shy of $120 billion in early October.
“I don’t think there is going to be a larger IPO for a while, but I do think there are a lot of companies we are helping to get to the point where they can have an IPO, and that is something we take pride in,” Cabrera told NegociosNow following the social media giant’s IPO. “We help a lot of companies grow their business, and it is even more meaningful when they are Latino businesses. We are helping them get to the next level because we know that as those companies succeed, they are being viewe

GSG Consultants Inc: Home run con las bases llenas

Como una empresa de Minoría, GSG Consultants, Inc. logró ser escogida para trabajar en tres proyectos multimillonarios junto a una empresa líder mundial como lo es el gigante Parsons Brinckerhoff.


Guillermo Garcia nunca esconde su amor por el beisbol. Se nota en las fotos que cuelgan de la pared de su oficina, en trofeos de aficionados que se ven en su estante, en los atuendos que a veces lleva en su maletín, y en sus recurrentes conversaciones del deporte de las bolas y los strikes.

El beisbol es un hobby para el dueño de GSG Consultants, Inc, pero la pasión por esta disciplina ha sido quizás en parte lo que lo formó como un empresario de las grandes ligas, del hombre que se enfrenta a las rápidas curvas que la economía le lanza, trabaja en equipo y aprovecha la oportunidad para batear una vuelacercas.

En materia de negocio, Garcia ha conectado un home run con las bases llenas, al trabajar como empresa de minoría con Parsons Brinckerhoff, líder en la operación y el desarrollo de infraestructuras en todo el mundo, con 14,000 empleados en comunidades como: las Américas, Europa, Africa, el Medio Oeste y las regiones de Asia Pacifico.

Gracias a esta duradera y sólida relación, GSG Consultants, Inc. trabaja con sus socios en tres megaproyectos: la reconstrucción de la Línea Roja de la CTA, la construcción de la autopista bautizada como Illiana (por unir a Illinois con Indiana a lo largo de 47 millas) y en la reconstrucción del Tollway, en el recorrido Jane Adams 1-90.

Garcia explica, “Es una gran oportunidad que nos ha dado Parsons Brinckerhoff. GSG está encargado de los estudios de impacto ambiental, un trabajo clave para obras tan complejas e importantes para la ciudad como estas, entre otras labores”.

La inversión involucrada en estos proyectos es realmente atractiva. Solo la renovación y mejoramiento de la Línea Roja tienen un costo que excede los $260 millones.

“Con la remodelación, el tren aumentaría significativamente su velocidad de una manera segura y acortaría el tiempo de viaje de los pasajeros, mejorando la calidad de vida de la gente”, comentó Garcia.

Garcia dijo sentirse emocionado cuando Parsons también escogió a GSG para el megaproyecto de Illiana y el Tollway, “una obra bien importante donde también haríamos análisis del impacto ambiental”, aseguró Garcia.

Los nuevos contratos han obligado a este empresario de origen mexicano a incrementar su plantilla de trabajadores, que hoy supera las 120 personas.

“Hemos contratado a decenas de trabajadores más y estamos feliz de cumplir con nuestra tarea en los distintos proyectos”, afirmo Garcia, quien empezó la compañía hace 20 años atrás.

GSG Consultants, Inc. localizada en el 855 W. Adams, en Chicago, IL, es una empresa de ingeniería y consultoría técnica para proyectos de transporte, edificios e instalaciones y en estudios del terreno. De modo que la compañía se dedica al análisis o prueba de materiales de construcción y evaluación del impacto ambiental, diseño, entre otros aspectos necesarios para ejecutar diferentes tipos de obras.

Para Garcia, tener hoy clientela de la notoriedad como Parsons Brinckerhoff no se gana como un simple juego de beisbol. “De mi padre aprendí que trabajar duro es una premisa para el éxito, de ahí viene la suerte, pero también es importante trabajar bajo el concepto de que el cliente es lo primero, creando una relación de confianza avalada por un buen trabajo.

Con una Maestria de Northern Illinois University y una Maestría de Ciencias en Seguridad Ocupacional, de la Universidad de Wisconsin – Whitewater, Garcia considera que el estudio jugó un papel trascendental en su vida, pero eso no es todo.

“Lo más importante para que una empresa te tome en serio, no son los estudios que hiciste años atrás, sino el trabajo encomendado, lo hagas bien y lo entregues a tiempo, dijo Garcia.

John Trotta, Vicepresidente Ejecutivo para la Región Central de Parsons Brinckerhoff aplaudió la habilidad y el profesionalismo de GSG Consultants para emprender proyectos de envergaduras y coincidió con Garcia en que el trabajo habla por sí solo.

“La mejor comercialización que puede realizarse, es hacer bien tu trabajo y entregarlo en los plazos previstos. Eso es lo que hemos encontrado en GSG y por eso hemos estado con ellos por tanto tiempo”, indicó Trotta.