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Latino Expo Draws Diversity

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 said.

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 said.

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 buyers.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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