By Claire Lindsey, Journalism Intern
(Photos by Dave Hochendoner for PMAHCC – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it, many Hispanic business owners and entrepreneurs have suffered the loss of valuable networking events. The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (PMAHCC) was forced to turn their lively in-person events to virtual ones.
They’re back, however, in a big way.
As more people are being vaccinated and rigid COVID restrictions are loosened, the PMAHCC is finally able to begin hosting in-person events again. On June 3rd, the organization welcomed 70 people to the Rivers Club for their first post-pandemic networking event.
“I thought, ‘Okay, either no one is going to sign up or everyone is going to sign up.’” said Executive Director Melanie Marie Boyer. “Within 24 hours we were 80% sold out.”
Boyer said that the spirits were high as people were able to be in the presence of one another. “Everyone gave huge, really prolonged hugs,” she said “Not just regular hugs. They were those kinds of hugs where you really feel something.”
As she looked around the room, she saw people gathering at tables and making business connections.
There have been multiple events since the one at the Rivers Club, and there are many more to come. The PMAHCC was recently awarded a grant from The Heinz Endowments, which will allow them to add programs and events to serve the Hispanic community.
Their next event will take place at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art on July 24th. The PMAHCC is partnering with Casa San Jose and the Latin American Cultural Union to invite people to explore the Border Cantos | Sonic Border exhibition. There will be group tours and an audio tour available in Spanish.
All children will be given a complimentary take-home art project, which will be available in English and Spanish.
In August, the PMAHCC will be partnering with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh to hold a networking event at Rivers Casino. Boyer urges people to remember that you do not have to be Hispanic to attend these events and have fun!
The PMAHCC has already planned numerous in-person events for the rest of this year and into 2022. For more details, visit the website’s events page.
The team was hard at work during the pandemic to ensure that Hispanic businesses and families stayed afloat. Their efforts did not go unseen.
The organization recently hosted an event at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse in Pittsburgh. Among the crowd of 102 people, there were 7 politicians.
“I didn’t call the legislators to invite them,” Boyer said. “They came on their own, which is really saying something.”
Boyer gave a speech about Latinx success. She said that once the politicians saw the community’s growth in terms of numbers and figures, they were finally ready to offer their support.
“Hispanics have grown so much and politicians are seeing their value,” she said.
The PMAHCC has also added a plethora of programs to assist Hispanic business owners, students, and those in need of guidance. For more information about their services, visit their website.
“This is just the beginning, it really is. There’s so much more that we can and will do. People finally see us and want to help us,” said Boyer. “There’s so much that we are going to do. We are moving so many things forward. We will go forward together”