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USHCC Will Have 2007 Annual Convention In Puerto Rico

Gathering Is Expected To Generate An Estimated 3,000 Room Nights And $1 Million In Direct Spending


June 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) has committed to convening in September 2007 at the forthcoming Puerto Rico Convention Center in Isla Grande.

In May, the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, and Promoexport visited a selection committee of the USHCC board in Washington to pitch the island. The bureau asked the committee what better place there could be than an authentically Hispanic destination to hold a USHCC convention.

The pitch worked, and Puerto Rico beat out Orlando, Memphis, and Nashville, three convention powerhouses, to host the event. "We presented an outstanding package in terms of rates, transportation, the new convention center, and a level of support by government and corporate citizens in Puerto Rico," said Jorge Pesquera, executive director of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau.

The USHCC convention is expected to produce an estimated 3,000 hotel room nights and $1 million in direct spending, excluding the significant amount of media exposure the event is sure to garner. According to the bureau, the Caribe Hilton has been chosen as the headquarters hotel for the event because of its critical role in helping to lure the USHCC.

The biggest achievement for the bureau, however, is the credibility Puerto Rico gains from hosting the USHCC event, which will serve to attract other groups. In fact, the Latin American Studies Association and the Society of American Archaeology have already scheduled meetings in Puerto Rico in 2006. "The delegation that attends the USHCC is the who’s who of leadership in the country," Pesquera said.

Major corporations such as General Motors, Goya, Wells Fargo, Ford, Toyota, Philip Morris, and Verizon are either sponsors or exhibitors at the convention. Guest speakers in the past have included senior cabinet members and other government officials.

Traditionally, the U.S. president attends the conference, though Pres. Bush was unable to participate last year because of the crisis in Iraq. He did, however, address the delegates via live telecast. Since its inception in 1979, the USHCC (comprising more than 130 Hispanic Chambers of Commerce) has been working to bring the issues and concerns of the nation’s more than 1.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses to the forefront of the U.S. economic agenda. Given that Hispanics are slated to account for 17% of the U.S. population by 2015 and have a purchasing power exceeding $400 billion, the USHCC believes it is crucial to advocate for policies and programs that promote the equality of Hispanic businesses.

After more than 10 years of planning and delays, the Puerto Rico Convention Center, which will host the USHCC convention in 2007, is slowly but surely rising on the grounds of the former U.S. Navy and Coast Guard base in Isla Grande.

"If you drive by the site, you can see the center’s skeleton," said Ana Maria Viscasillas, vice president of business development at the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau.

The campaign for the convention center launched in May entails business-to-business advertising and reaching professional meeting planners across the Americas through trade journals and direct marketing.

The campaign’s tagline was inspired by the unique design (a wave form) of the convention center’s building, which relays that a new wave of inspiration is unfolding in the Caribbean. Interior meeting-room doors are replicas of those to homes in Old San Juan and bathroom tiles include petroglyphs from Indian ceremonial parks.

When completed in 2005, the 580,000-square-foot facility will be the largest of its kind in the Caribbean and a major competitor to Florida’s convention centers.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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