By Thea Skinner
Triplicate staff writer
A new Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is emerging from a Wednesday discussion among board members of Manos Unidos Incorporated, a Del Norte County non-profit dedicated to empowering people through education.
"This is the first time there is an all Latino board of directors," said Renne Quintana, founder of Manos Unidos Incorporated and chairman of its board of directors. "It is a very proud moment. After so many years of not having a Hispanic non-profit, the community has come a long way."
Manos Unidos Incorporated started earlier this year. The board completed paperwork while an attorney and account team represented the non-profit as a corporation.
Even the non-profit's name is fitting for the emerging chamber, as Manos Unidos is Spanish for "Hands United."
"Both business and community representatives are involved from the farming community" and other circles, Quintana said.
"We wanted a board that represents all areas including education, real estate, and farm owners," he said.
The board of directors is creating a Website.
The main purpose of the non-profit is to address the needs of the Hispanic community, which include health, Quintana said. The non-profit plans to work closely with the San Francisco-based Mexican Consulate representing Mexico.
"We are in constant contact with them. We will eventually coordinate events with them," Quintana said. "The Hispanic community has become a powerful political position. We can determine the outcomes of local elections. We realize we are taxpayers and a strong supporter of business."
The Hispanic population is the second largest community amongst Del Norte, Curry and Humboldt counties.
Quintana estimates that more than 20,000 Hispanics are in Humboldt, more than 5,000 Hispanics are in Del Norte County, and more than 1,400 Hispanics are in Curry County.
"It is an exciting time to coordinate efforts and work with community services," he said. "We are starting to merge ourselves and knowing that we are a strong political force we are forming a good relationship with the Hmong community."
The non-profit has a Smith River site that offers computers for public use.
"It is about getting services to the Hispanic community," he said, referring to the digital divide between those who can afford computers and those who cannot. "It is a Renaissance for Del Norte County. The chamber is really needed, because Hispanic businesses are growing and they own key real estate. Hispanics are progressive and invest in the community."
The emerging Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will allow members from all walks of life to sit on the board, and members are not required to have a Hispanic heritage.
"It is for everybody," he said, "we will meet the needs of Hispanic professionals and the community. Making direct contact with employers" and others, said Quintana.