New York State Senate and the Hispanic Federation to hold Unidad Latina Conference to focus on economic opportunities for the Hispanic community

October 20, 2011

Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos announced today that the Senate and the Hispanic Federation will conduct a two-day economic conference this week, entitled “Unidad Latina,” to discuss ways to increase economic opportunities for the growing Hispanic community in New York.  The conference will be held on October 21st and 22nd at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.

“We are very excited about this conference, which will promote increased economic opportunities for Latino New Yorkers and discuss other important issues, including health and education,” Senator Skelos said.  “We look forward to a productive discussion and exchange of ideas regarding the needs, challenges and aspirations of the Hispanic community so we can move forward together to create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

“As a nonprofit membership organization, the mission of the Hispanic Federation is to advance and empower the Hispanic community,” Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation said.  “We look forward to a constructive and meaningful dialogue on much needed policies and initiatives that will serve to better educate and meet the needs of the ever- increasing Hispanic communities in the State of New York.”

The conference will feature policy workshops, networking opportunities and presentations featuring speakers of local and national prominence. Scheduled speakers include Cristobal I. Conde, former CEO of SunGard Data Systems, a business with 20,000 employees and $5 billion in yearly sales.  

Additional information about the conference is available at

Also speaking will be: Jorge Silva-Puras, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Previously, Mr. Silva-Puras served as Chief of Staff of the Commownwealth of Puerto Rico and Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development; Irene M. Esteves, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Time Warner Cable Inc; Dr. John B. King, Commissioner of Education and President of the State University of New York; and Lillian Rodriquez Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation.

Senator Skelos and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will also address attendees at the conference.  Other members of the State Senate and Assembly will participate in the events and workshop discussions.

Panelists participating in the workshop discussions will include recognized experts from the Hispanic community in the areas of business, education, health care and government.  Unidad Latina Conference workshops include the following: 

> Minding Our Business: Protecting and Supporting Latino Small Businesses – There are almost 100,000 Hispanic-owned small businesses in New York City.  This workshop on promoting Latino job growth will highlight unique challenges faced by Latino businessmen through loans, small business development and other measures 

> Got Jobs? Promoting Latino Job Growth – The unemployment rate for Hispanics in New York City has increased from seven percent to more than 12 percent from 2007 to 2010.   This discussion will focus on what is being done at the government and community levels to help Latinos and others find jobs, including discussions about job training, adult education and support for small businesses.

> Bridge to a Healthier Tomorrow: Addressing Latino Health Disparities – This workshop will focus on the health disparities that imperil the well-being of the Latino population, which is disproportionately impacted by diabetes, asthma, HIV/AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular disease and the lack of health insurance.  Panelists will discuss successful community-based health care initiatives and public policies that can promote solutions to Latino health care needs.

> Las Olvidadas: Confronting the Latina Teen Suicide Crisis – According to the Centers for Disease Control in New York City, more than one Latina teenager out of every seven has attempted suicide.  This workshop will focus on how to prevent suicide among Latina adolescents.

> Our Future Depends on It: Increasing Latino College Success – While Latino college enrollment rates have been increasing over the last 10 years, Hispanics currently have the lowest college graduation rates of any major population group.  This panel will identify programs and strategies to support and accelerate Latino college success rates to stimulate long-term community wealth and development.

Other organizations participating in the Unidad Latina Conference include: Adelante of Suffolk County, Alianza Dominicana, the Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of New York State, Catholic Charities, Circulo de La Hispanidad, the College of Staten Island, the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans, the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre, the Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

According to the census, almost half of the entrepreneurs in New York were born in other countries. 

“In New York City alone there are about 70,000 foreign-born business owners, many of them Latinos,” Senator Skelos said. “It is critically important that state government recognizes their contributions to our economy and helps them prosper and grow.  The Senate’s Unidad Latina conference will help us achieve that goal.”