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Hispanic chamber of commerce launches in Delaware

Katie Tabeling
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The Delaware Hispanic Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon on its office on Lancaster Avenue in Wilmington on March 15, signaling a fresh start for the Hispanic business community in Northern Delaware. | PHOTO COURTESY OF VANESSA SPENCE

WILMINGTON — Gathering the growing might of the Hispanic and Latino community, the Hispanic American Association of Delaware and other community members have launched a new chamber of commerce to help them navigate the challenges of business together.

The Delaware Hispanic Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon on its office on Lancaster Avenue in Wilmington on March 15, with scores of attendees in the audience. But according to Ronaldo Tello, the executive director of the Hispanic American Association of Delaware, that was just the culmination of years of groundwork.

“I can see how we’re gathering people that may be a little intimidated in joining a traditional chamber, because they might not speak English or have trouble with the technology,” Trello said. “Our board meetings are in Spanish. That says a lot. Everyone is coming from the same community we’re trying to serve and help build bridges to the mainstream community.”

The Delaware Hispanic Chamber of Commerce spun off of an award program launched by Tello’s Delaware Hispano Magazine that celebrated business leaders in the Hispanic Community. That program started in 2016 and continued every two years until the COVID-19 pandemic led to a few delays. When the awards returned in 2023, Trello said there was a “wave of businesses.”

“There were so many people who wanted to start businesses and people who reinvented themselves,” he told the Delaware Business Times. “One in every four start-up businesses in Delaware are started by someone with a Latino background, and that doesn’t surprise me.”

That excitement sparked discussions for the Delaware Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and roughly 240 businesses committed to support the group in its first year. It also brought people to the table like Ayanna Khan, who started the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce, to help guide them through the process.

Other supporters include the Hispanic American Association of Delaware and the Delaware Small Business Development Center. Barclays, Walmart and Del-One Federal Credit Union continued $15,000 each as seed money, while the Hispanic American Association of Delaware contributed office space and in-kind services.

Like ¡DALE!, or the Delaware Alliance of Latino Entrepreneurs, the plan is to provide services for new or established business owners, just in northern Delaware. With ¡DALE! and La Plaza Delaware’s roots are based in Georgetown, Tello believes there are plenty of opportunities to partner together.

“The goal is to make sure all businesses have the services they need for success. The Hispanic community is very diverse, and you shouldn’t assume one size fits all,” he said.

Looking to the future, Trello said that the chamber will be focusing its efforts on a bilingual business center and bilingual kitchen incubator to help provide many of the food-based businesses in the chamber with technical assistance to open. Another potential event down the line could be a Quinceañeras Expo, for the photographers, videographers, DJs and banquet halls in Delaware.

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