JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Johnson City Chamber of Commerce hosted a Breaking Barriers: Latin Networking Group event on Wednesday. Business owners, community organizers and more came out to connect and help drive minority business in the region.
The event is a part of the Minority Enterprise Development Week. The chamber is hosting numerous events designed to bring attention and growth to minority populations in Northeast Tennessee.
Many of the people who came out to the event moved to the region from different places and wanted to network with others in the community.
Abby Zuniga moved to Johnson City from Houston, Texas three and a half years ago and started her own esthetician business, named 4C Aesthetics. Not knowing anyone in the area, she became discouraged trying to build clientele. So, she connected with the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce.
“They came out to do my grand opening, my ribbon cutting,” Zuniga said. “They did a lot of marketing for me on their website. That has helped me tremendously with connecting with others, attending some of their events.”
The chamber asked Zuniga to help connect the local Latin community together. They have monthly networking meetings, but she says this event helps other minorities interact and help each other as well.
“This gave me an opportunity to not just target the Latin community, but all of the [minorities] come together and kind of introduce themselves and what they offer and kind of see where we can bridge the gap into helping them become a little bit more successful,” Zuniga said. “If they already are in business or for those that are thinking of opening up their business, that allows them to know who’s who.”
Herandy Lucaspino is a community organizer who came out to the event. She says building connections locally is important.
“We should know each other, be friends, and there’s room for everybody,” Lucaspino said. “So to amplify each other’s voices and businesses really helps each other out and helps other people in the community find what they’re looking for.”
Event attendees introduced themselves and learned about different opportunities in the region.
“I learned so many things and so many people are starting their own businesses or wanting to start and establish their businesses and also how people in the group can help each other thrive,” Lucaspino said.
Lucaspino also organized the Hispanic Heritage Festival that will take place on Friday, Oct. 6, outside of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce building.
“People can expect different food vendors from Honduras, Venezuela, Panama, Peru, different people in South America bringing a taste of their culture to the event,” Lucaspino said. “As well as a bouncy house for kids performances like the folkloric dancers, salsa dancers as well as lowriders showcasing their cars and the flags.”
The festival starts at 6 p.m. and goes to 10 p.m.