Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs recently met with several local Hispanic media outlets and reporters of Latin American descent to expand outreach into multicultural communities and to showcase the services that Orange County provides to citizens.
Newly-appointed Special Assistant to the Mayor Millie Irizarry, from the Office of Public Engagement & Hispanic Affairs, assisted in coordinating the event with the County’s Communications Division. Irizarry said the goal of the lunch and learn was to showcase current Hispanic outreach efforts and highlight initiatives that serve Hispanic constituents.
“I am thrilled with the participation at the event,” Irizarry said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share the programs and services Orange County has to offer to its citizens along with my sincere commitment to serve the Hispanic community.”
Individuals representing El Sentinel, WFTV, WESH, El Sol de la Florida, WOFL, El Osceola Star, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and Hispanic Speak Out TV participated in the lunch and learn.
Guillermo Hansen, editor of El Osceola Star and member of the Board of Trustees at Valencia College, said he was honored to be included in the conversation.
“Mayor Jacobs has continuously been an advocate for Hispanic residents and I consider her a friend of the Hispanic community,” Hansen said. “I have always seen Orange County as a step ahead of reaching out and engaging with residents, and with all of the services offered to the public. I hope we can work to educate and communicate these resources to the masses.”
Mayor Jacobs and Orange County’s Board of County Commissioners (BCC) have continuously supported the region’s Hispanic communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs. As of 2011, one out of five businesses in the Orlando area is Hispanic-owned and approximately 30 percent of Orange County's population is of Hispanic heritage. In recognition of this economic impact, the BCC allocated $125,941 to the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund (HBIF) in FY 2014-15 and $128,460 in FY 2015-16.
HBIF is a nonprofit economic development organization that serves Orange County’s Hispanic business owners by providing quality bilingual business development and training services to help strengthen their business and Florida’s economy.
In September 2015, Orange County kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 annually) with a celebration at the Orange County Regional History Center that included cultural dance performances, Hispanic food and the unveiling of special Hispanic artwork, which was displayed at the History
Center and the atrium of the Orange County Government Administration Center throughout the duration of Hispanic Heritage Month. In October, the County hosted its third annual Orange Fiesta in the Park, a family-friendly event hosted by Orange County and the Hispanic Heritage Committee of Greater Orange County (HHCOGOC) celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. HHCOGOC was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing opportunities that promote and highlight the contributions made by individuals of Hispanic descent in the community.
The County is also a longtime supporter of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and its mission, which is to provide leadership and to support the economic development of Hispanic businesses and entrepreneurs in Central Florida.
“Orange County is proud of how we have cultivated relationships with our Hispanic and multicultural business leaders and organizations,” Mayor Jacobs said. “The diversity of our Orange County’s population is one of our key strengths. From vibrant cultural offerings to job creation and entrepreneurship, the Hispanic community is essential to Orange County’s success.”
Photos from the lunch and learn are available on Mayor Jacobs’ Flickr album.