150 Set Up Booths, Including Regional And National Companies
April 4, 2005
By WILLIAM HATHAWAY, Courant Staff Writer
People from businesses
as diverse as a national insurance company, a regional supermarket
chain, and a small Brazilian boutique set up booths at the
Civic Center in Hartford Sunday for the same reason - a belief
in emerging Latino economic muscle.
"It used to be we only saw
Latino businesses here, now we have national companies wanting
to tap into the market," said
Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, who stopped by to chat with some
of the 150 exhibitors at the fifth annual Latino Expo.
Rain and construction at the Civic Center may have depressed
attendance Saturday, but 4,000 to 6,000 people visited the
expo Sunday, organizer Debra Gould estimated.
Nationwide Insurance was there not only to try to sell Latino
buyers its full line of insurance products, but also to hire
bilingual agents and employees, said Michele Lombard, sales officer
for the Northeast operation.
"We want to be a presence in the community," Lombard
In a nearby booth, 26-year-old entrepreneur Cleice N. Gomes
wanted exposure for her 3-month-old business, the Brazilian Boutique
on Park Street.
She said started her business because she noted that there was
only one other Brazilian boutique to serve a growing population
of Brazilians in the Hartford metro area.
"This is something I've always wanted to do," she
While there were booths to help struggling Latinos find health
care or obtain social service assistance, the primary motivation
behind the expo was to link emerging middle-class Latinos with
professionals they may need for the first time, such as accountants
or bankers, Gould said.
"Jobs, education, health care and business" are
the focus of the expo, she said.
Established business such as Shaw's Supermarket and Tony Marsh
car dealerships staked out large display areas seeking Latino
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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