Charlotte, North Carolina – The enterprising spirit of Hispanic business owners will be evident at the Democratic National Convention here in September since dozens of their companies will have helped to organize and design it.
Up to last year, Peruvian-born architect Luis Tochiki, one of the owners of the Neighboring Concepts company, never imagined taking part in planning the September 3-6 event in Charlotte.
Tochiki, who arrived in Queen City in 1993 without speaking a word of English, is among a group of architects charged with designing space redistribution at the Time Warner Arena to accomodate the 35,000 delegates and media representatives who will attend the convention.
That plus the 70,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, where President Barack Obama will deliver his speech accepting the Democratic nomination.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, above all to show what Latino talent can do," Tochiki told Efe. "If we do it well, we'll be opening doors to other minority companies to be considered for such monumental projects in the future."
The architect said he has enjoyed "every minute of the process," which includes planning where to locate delegates from the different states and the press in coordination with Secret Service agents.
Similarly, George Castaño, president of ExpoTrade Exhibits in Charleston, South Carolina, is finishing up the design of the convention's refreshment-fountain area.
Castaño, who emigrated to the United States from Colombia at age 17 and founded the company in 2006, has done several jobs for the DNC host committee such as registration formats and some outdoor signs.
Robyn Hamilton, adviser on business and diversity to the host committee, is said to be "doing well" in meeting the goal of awarding at least a third of the contracts for work on the convention to companies whose owners are African-Americans, Latinos or women.
We're still looking for goods and services for the convention," Hamilton said in a statement to Efe. "We're encouraging Latino companies to register in the contractors' directory."
The organizing committee's guidelines in contracting companies basically call for previous experience in similar events and a relationship with the state of North Carolina.
Unknown up to now is the exact number of companies that have won contracts for the convention, whose budget stands at some $36.6 million.
Cuban-American artist Rosa Naday Garmendia worked for a communications company in Charlotte on the design of credentials to be used by delegates, the press and special guests.
"As a Latino, a woman and an artist, I'm proud to represent my community and do my little bit for this political event that is so important for our country," she said in a telephone interview with Efe from Miami.