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Hispanic Chamber of Metro Orlando boasts new CEO, nonprofit foundation

ORLANDO, Fla. — A strategic plan to stimulate economic growth and expansion in Central Florida was announced by Pedro Turushina as the new president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Metro Orlando at the 2024 Ignite Luncheon.

“We strive for a more purpose-driven community, and our commitment extends to the core of our organization,” Turushina stated. “As one of the main economic drivers in this region, Hispanics comprise over 32% of the population in Orange County, over 54% in Osceola County and over 20% in Seminole County. Therefore, we have a significant responsibility to continue diligently working on our mission to strengthen the Hispanic businesses in our region.”

The chamber plans to enhance three key programs: the CEO series, Lunch and Learn, and Speed Networking, alongside launching a new online member center featuring GrowthZone and the MemberPlus App. With more than 2,500 members and 45 corporate investors, it ranks among the nation’s Top 10 Hispanic chambers.

For the organization to increase its membership and offer new opportunities for Hispanic professionals, leaders and companies moving to Central Florida, expansion into Osceola, Seminole and neighboring counties is vital. This is especially important for those relocating from Puerto Rico and the rising population in these areas who are interested in starting a business or expanding their existing companies.

Turushina, who served as vice president since 2021, was promoted and stepped into his new role with gratitude and mixed emotions. He said he was very proud of this new role and thanked the leadership and praised the legacy of Gaby Ortigoni, who served as president and CEO. With more than 15 years of service to the Hispanic business community in Central Florida, Ortigoni will now lead the newly established Hispanic Economic Advancement Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.

“Since 1993, our Hispanic Chamber has been at the forefront of promoting contracting opportunities and creating programs to support our member companies’ growth,” Ortigoni said. “The vision of this new entity is to make Central Florida the No. 1 hub for the most prosperous Hispanic-owned companies and the premier developer of Hispanic executives nationwide.”

Elisha González, the 2024 Hispanic Chamber board chair, announced the foundation’s creation. The nonprofit will focus on fostering relationships with procurement executives to boost contracting and capacity-building opportunities for second-stage Hispanic-owned companies. The chamber’s board unanimously approved the establishment of this new entity in 2023.

Mayra Ramos-Miró, the new executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs (PRFAA) office in Florida, attended the event and emphasized the potential for Puerto Ricans to thrive in the state.

“There is a great opportunity for Puerto Ricans, both those who live in Puerto Rico and those who come to Florida, to develop their businesses. This is part of the initiatives that we are working on in our office – to establish and encourage business exchange between Florida and Puerto Rico. We support them with information and education. It is great to see Puerto Ricans arrive here, improve themselves and become leaders in the business community,” she said.

Orange County Commissioner Tony Ortiz encourages new residents and business owners to familiarize themselves with local government operations as their first step upon arrival.

“Many people who come to the country from other nations are often confused about how the government works. It’s essential to understand the differences between our decentralized government and the centralized governments of other countries to navigate it effectively. To help people learn to navigate the system, a free government academy is available,” said Ortiz, who is of Puerto Rican descent.

Áxel Otero, the Puerto Rican proprietor of Café Don Juan, which he established nearly two years ago in Winter Park, understands the struggles of businesses, but is optimistic about the growth of Hispanic enterprises in the area.

“The business is doing well, although we have faced some operational cost challenges. The truth is that our income, including insurance, has increased compared to two years ago. As for our workforce, we need to be attentive to them to maintain good control of our finances and keep the business healthy. With many people continuing to move, there will be a growing need for our services,” Otero noted.

Honorees were awarded the Ignitors of the Year accolade for embodying the following values:

– For Connections: Maritza Beltrán, executive director of La Prensa Newspaper; María Isabel Sanquírico, president of Eleven Communications; and Salvador F. Rovira, CEO of Credemtia

– For Success: Dáxel López, president Dax Art Studio; Linsy Di Pietro, CEO of Warehouse Equipment & Supply; and Nelson Méndez, president of Mr. Cappuccino

– For Empowerment: Peter Méndez, president of 1st SOS Staffing; Lisa López, director of operations at Nonpareil Institute; and Jason James, president of Mechanical One

– For Unity: Arnaldo Oliveras of 180 Commercial Real Estate Advisors; Edwin Lurduy, owner of Mecatos Bakery & Café; and Stella Siracusa, owner of Tomato Express

Author Details
Author Details
With almost 20 years of experience in the world of communications and the digital world, Cecilia Figueroa is a Multimedia Journalist for several media outlets in Florida, Puerto Rico and other countries. She has worked producing bilingual (English and Spanish) content for traditional and digital media.

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