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Rochester summit highlights economic opportunities for Latinos

Photo: Office of Gov. Cuomo


Governor Andrew Cuomo accepted an award from the Ibero-American Action League in Rochester this week.

The community organization hosted the Upstate Latino Summit, an annual event that kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month and works on promoting Latino interests in New York State. The governor used the opportunity to denounce anti-immigrant rhetoric from some Republicans.

The Governor said the Empire State is a state that welcomes immigrants. He warned against people who target immigrants as the source of the country’s problems. "Let’s close down the United States because we have to stop these immigrants from coming in, because they are the root of the problem. That is bologna," Cuomo said.

The goals for the day were two-fold: to discuss and brainstorm solutions to problems in upstate New York’s Latino community and to find ways to better engage Latino consumers and business owners.

In a special morning session, Rochester Business Alliance president Bob Duffy talked about the continuing demand for more skilled workers. He proposed a solution from within the education system. "Kids maybe in the last two years of high school will spend the first half of the day in school, the afternoons in an internship or coop (hopefully a paid internship or coop) to learn a skill, to be involved in a business opportunity," Duffy said.

The keynote speaker was Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Commerce, William Ramos. He wants more New York State business owners to reach for international markets. "Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside of the United States, and what we want for companies in New York, be it a majority or minority company, is to be able to compete for those markets," he said.

The summit theme “The Power of the Growing Latino Market” highlighted the $1.5 trillion in spending power that Latinos in the United States represent.

Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with the health collaborative Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.