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As the leading Hispanic organization in Central Florida for the past 20 years, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) has been the leader in stimulating business-to-business, and business-to-consumer interactions aimed at capitalizing on our emerging community’s buying power and cultural influence.  However, our Hispanic community’s impact on the mainstream culture exceeds the consumption of goods and services. It is an upward trend that has the potential to define the future of our country including exerting significant influence over political outcomes.

According to an article published on the Huffington Post in September of 2013 titled Hispanic Population Facts: a Look at Latinos by the Numbers, Hispanics make up 17%, or 53 million people, of the U.S. population.  The article estimates that by 2060 Hispanics will make up 31% or 128.8 million of the US population.  According to the Metro Orlando EDC, Orange County’s Hispanic population accounts for 28.2% of the total population, Osceola County’s accounts for 47.2%, and Seminole County’s accounts for 18.3%.

In addition, the Metro Orlando EDC estimates that by 2018 these percentages will increase to 31% in Orange County, 51.5% in Osceola and 20.2% in Seminole.   This national and local upward trend has the potential to define the future of our country—economically, culturally and politically.  In the same Huffington Post article, it was noted that in 2010 Hispanic voters made up 7% of the voters and in 2012 Hispanic voters made up 8.4%.  Furthermore, according to the 2012 PEW Hispanic Center’s report on Aging, Naturalization and Immigration report for the next two decades 50,000 Hispanics will turn 18 years of age every month becoming eligible voters.  This fact ensures that Hispanics’ share of the electorate will increase dramatically over the next 20 years. Will we as a community take advantage of this?  Or will political indifference continue to limit our community’s impact on our country?

In the interest of promoting engagement, collaboration and participation in the political process and cementing political participation as part of our culture, the Hispanic Chamber is very excited to introduce yet another valuable benefit to our membership.  This year, the chamber will elevate its involvement in the local political conversation via its Government Affairs Committee
(GAC)
, and you will be kept abreast of our progress via the ADVOCACY CORNER column. The mission of the GAC is to monitor, educate, and from time to time, advocate for business-centric issues that affect the business climate in Central Florida.  The GAC is committed to non-partisanship, so while the committee may endorse some issues, it will not endorse candidates.

Furthermore, as a way to promote dialogue, information and engagement, GAC will host a Civic Advocacy Series.  This speaker series will serve as a platform for intimate conversations with our elected officials, providing an opportunity for robust Q&A, in-depth discussions on topics relevant to the chamber and the overall economic climate of Central Florida. Prior to going to print, Florida’s Senate president-designate, Andy Gardiner served as the inaugural speaker for the 2014 Civic Advocacy Series.  Their calendars permitting, we look forward to hosting Senator Darren Soto, Representative Joe Saunders, local commissioners and other elected oficials.

For additional information on the Government Affairs Committee, please reach out to our Chamber President, Diana Bolivar, [email protected], or myself, [email protected]

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