State of the state: Minority conferences are moving from coasts to Denver

When more than 50,000 people attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver last August, the Mile High City was able to showcase its full potential as a conference destination.

The DNC’s success is evident in the number of major conferences that have since chosen to come to Denver. This fall, several minority events have chosen Denver rather than West or East coast locales, including the annual conferences for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Asian American Professionals, which will be held in September and August, respectively.

“The Democratic National Convention really put us on the map last year, and we’re just going to keep gaining momentum,” said Jeff Campos, president of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “What’s great about Denver is that it’s centrally located, and it will attract West Coasters and East Coasters.”

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is expecting between 3,000 and 5,000 people at its 30th annual conference Sept. 16-19, Campos said. The convention will address the nation’s turbulent economy and provide Hispanic leaders with knowledge and tools to survive and thrive. Campos said the event will also bring $10 million in revenue to the Denver economy.

The 23rd Annual National Association of Asian American Professionals
National Convention
Aug. 13 –16
at the Hyatt Regency Denver

The 30th Annual U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
National Convention & Business Expo
Sept. 16 –19
at the Colorado Convention Center

The 23rd Annual National Association for Multi-Ethnicity
in Communications Conference
Oct. 26 –28
at the Grand Hyatt Denver

“Not only will local businesses benefit, but it will give the chamber a lot of exposure as well,” Campos said. “We think the city, what it offers and the vitality of the Hispanic community here, will be a big draw.”

Denver’s business world is thriving compared to other cities, Campos said, and there has been a lot of “buzz” about the success and growth of the Hispanic community in Denver. Those from out of state are excited to meet local people and discuss how to do business successfully during tough times, he said.

Jie “Jay” Zheng, president of the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals, said Denver was chosen for the site of the NAAAP’s 23rd Annual National Convention because the city is the future for Asian-American professionals and other minority groups.

“In the past, it has been held on either coast, but there has always been more growth of Asian populations inland than on the coasts.” Zheng said. “Denver is a small market for the Asian population, but the growth is definitely there. This is a major event that will help unite and develop the community.”

Given the economy and the smaller Denver market, the NAAAP expects less attendance than at last year’s conference in Los Angeles, Zheng said. He anticipates about 600 people but more diverse audiences and topics covered at the Aug. 13-16 convention.

The theme of the conference is “Leadership at New Heights: Cultivating Leaders for Today and Beyond.” This year, the conference covers topics such as diversity in the workplace, and it will also include more programs and resources for Asian-American women professionals, who make up a growing demographic, Zheng said.

Like the NAAAP, the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications will hold its 23rd annual conference in Denver. The association educates, advocates and empowers multicultural individuals in the telecommunications industry through 18 nationwide chapters. Last year, 850 people attended the event, said Victor Perez, former president of NAMIC Denver chapter. Previously, the conference has been held in California and New York.

But this year, Perez said, Denver was chosen for the Oct. 26-28 event for economic and geographic reasons.

“What attendance we lose from East Coasters, we hope to gain from the West and the Midwest,” Perez said. “And it’s more economically feasible to hold the conference in Denver versus New York. Then there’s additional money left for more content.

“These conferences will expose people to what Denver has to offer and bring business to the state,” Perez said. “And who knows? Some might even like it enough to move here. This isn’t the first time people have had the opportunity to fall in love with Colorado.”

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