Kern County holds its 24th Hispanic Business Conference


Rosa Salazar, Reporter

The 24th annual Kern County Hispanic Business Conference (KCHCC) and Exposition took place at the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center Aug. 30 from 1-7p.m.

The KCHCC is a non-profit organization that focuses as a Hispanic business resource.

According to Jay Tamsi, the President CEO of the KCHCC, the organization promotes and enhances business opportunities for their members.

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Norma Rojas-Mora, Director of Communication and Community Relations for Bakersfield College gives a speech on her life and how she is here today.

Tamsi said the majority of its members are Hispanic, but anyone is welcome to become a member regardless of ethnicity.

“Sixty percent of our membership is Hispanic, 40 percent is non Hispanic,” he said. “You do not have to be Hispanic to be in our chamber…so regardless of ethnicity [you’re] welcome to join our chamber, you’re welcome to partake in our chamber, you’re welcome to come to any of the events to make sure that this is the chamber that fits your needs,” he said.

The sponsors included Wells Fargo, Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Chevron and Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.

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Richard Chapman, President/CEO of the Kern Economic Deployment Corporation, Lauren Skidmore and Zack Morey, Engineer at Chevron, explain the opportunities for college graduates.

One of the nine business workshops was named “Branding Yourself and Your Business.”The workshop was presented by Tamara Baker, who works in community relations for Bakersfield College. The workshop covered topics such as branding, creating brand strategy, and seven components for comprehensive brand strategy. One of the pieces of advice that Baker gave was, “Make your brand human.”

Another workshop titled “Women Empowerment”was moderated by Olivia Garcia, a history professor at Bakersfield College. The workshop had women in the business field that shared their struggles and experiences. One of the women who spoke was Gabriela Mello, Vice President of community relations for Wells Fargo Bank. Mello gave some advice for women.

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Dr. Sandeep Walia, Ophthalmologist Dignity Health – Mercy Memorial Hospitals and Jay Tamsi, CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (KCHCC) pose for a picture.




“Keep learning, keep stretching yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s totally fine. Just be you. And be proud of you. No excuses. Because we try to reinvent ourselves and that’s totally fine, but the true you is the best one to put forward, so just be real…talk to each other, make sure that you’re kind, that you keep learning because this journey is not gonna end,” she said.

One of the speakers at the convention was Pepe Serna, a Hollywood actor. He has been in movies and TV shows including, “Lowriders,” “Scarface,” and “Downsizing.” Serna presented an improv workshop where people participated in many activities such as stretching, speaking in front of a group, and singing.

Serna offered some advice to people that want to get ahead.

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Lauren Skidmore talks about millennials and how they impact the community.

“One of the things that I was saying in my show was if you wanna know how to get to where you’re going is ask somebody who’s on their way back…ask somebody who’s successful,” he said. “And they’ll tell you. They’ll tell you all about it. People love to talk about their success, and how to build, how to make it happen.”

One of the expositions at the convention was the North of the River Chamber. It was represented by Cathy Wolfe, the executive director/ office manager. According to Wolfe, the North of the River Chamber “has a lot of businesses that join it, so it’s a chamber of commerce and one of the big things that we do is we have about four or five fundraisers throughout the year that raise funds for our scholarships that we give to Frontier, Liberty, Centennial and North High.”

Wolfe hopes to grow its memberships by December.

She said, “We are having a membership drive September through December and we hope by the end of December to grow the 200 members.”

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Raji Brar, Owner/Operator Countryside Market and Restaurant, Norma Rojas Mora, Director of communication and Community Relations for Bakersfield College and Gabriela Mello, Vice President of Community Relations and Corporate Responsible Wells Fargo, talk about what they do and how they got there.