Like everyone else, Carlos Medina, the CEO of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, is eager to move on from 2021 and the challenges it brought with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization, however, will not do so without recognizing those who helped the Hispanic business community survive and thrive during the difficult year — and will do so at the group’s annual gala, to be held Dec. 9 at the Brownstone in Paterson. (Register for the event here.)
“The Statewide Hispanic Chamber is eager to recognize the role models and success stories that will continue to pull us out of the COVID-19 recession and beyond,” Medina said.
Here’s a quick look at this year’s honorees:
- Business of the Year: La Fortaleza (Clifton), Arturo Ortega, owner;
- President’s Award: Joseph Dominguez, CEO at Exelon Generation;
- Latina Trailblazer Award: Marlene Cintron, Small Business Administration administrator, Region 2;
- Rising Star Award: Jessica Gonzalez, cannabis and intellectual property attorney at Hiller P.C., as well as outside general counsel for the national organization, Minorities for Medical Marijuana;
- Partner of the Year: The New Jersey Economic Development Authority, represented by Tai Cooper, senior vice president of policy and communications as well as managing director of policy and advocacy.
Medina said all are worthy of such recognition.
“The commitment of organizations and leaders such as NJEDA, CEO Joe Dominguez and SBA Administrator Marlene Cintron inspires us to keep moving things forward and finding new ways to assist our community,” he said. “The chamber is proud to honor the very best of the Hispanic community in New Jersey.
Medina said small business deserves a specific shoutout.
“Small business owners have faced challenge after challenge during the pandemic, yet they have shown tenacity and resilience every step of the way,” he said. “The ingenuity and determination of entrepreneurs like Arturo Ortega at La Fortaleza and Jessica Gonzalez in the cannabis industry prove that Hispanic small businesses will continue to be the backbone of our economy.”
Medina said the group is looking forward to 2022 — and is confident it will help the state prosper. After all, he said, Hispanic businesses have played that role before.
“As the U.S. sees a surge in Hispanic businesses, it reminds me of 2009, when Hispanic businesses drove the country out of the recession,” he said. “As reflected in our robust numbers now, we can confidently celebrate that we are on a path toward broader inclusivity and success with our collective achievements.”
For more information on the event, click here.