Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted the 2013 US/Mexico Business Conference this week with an impressive show of support from Utah’s private and public sectors. Welcoming a group of over 200 attendees, largely from the Salt Lake and Utah valley business communities, UVU President Matthew Holland expressed his gratitude for the attendees’ participation, noting how fitting this event was in light of the recent, national recognition UVU’s Latino Initiative has been given.
At the pinnacle of this conference was the formal announcement from Albert C. Zapanta, President and CEO of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce (USMCOC), that he and his Binational Board of Directors have selected Salt Lake City, Utah to be the home of its newest addition, the Intermountain Chapter. With a message partially delivered in Spanish, Utah’s new Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox welcomed the addition of the USMCOC Intermountain Chapter to the Utah business community. Lt. Governor Cox reflected on his experience living in Mexico and shared the Governor’s intention to improve Utah’s relationship with Mexico, a factor Lt. Governor Cox said was a strong consideration during Governor Herbert’s selection process for a new Lt. Governor after the recent resignation of former Lt. Governor Greg Bell.
After Lt. Governor Cox’s remarks a brief signing ceremony took place in which Lt. Governor Cox; Spencer P. Eccles, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development; and Albert C. Zapanta, signed a statement of acknowledgment and formal welcoming of the USMCOC to Utah. This statement acknowledged the USMCOC’s 40 year history of promoting and facilitating U.S.-Mexico trade by way of its vast membership network on both sides of the border. Following the ceremony, Zapanta shared his reasons for opening the Intermountain Chapter, which came from his observations during the recent visits he has made to Utah this year. “Utah is a place where the values system the world should be practicing is so clearly on display,” Zapanta said, “this, along with Utah’s vibrant entrepreneurialism spirit and extensive language abilities found among Utah residents and business leaders, make for a natural choice.”
“We are committed to institutionalizing these important relationships,” Harvey Scott, Director of International Trade and Diplomacy at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development said. “With our commitment to Mexico, we are committed to the mission of the USMCOC. We look forward to continued success in building Utah’s business presence in Mexico and having Mexican firms invest in Utah.”
While Utah’s numbers by way of Hispanic population pale in comparison to locations of other USMCOC Chapters, which include Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, Zapanta recognizes the overwhelming institutional support in the Utah community for this new chapter, support from education, public, and private institutions. Opportunity is at the center of Zapanta’s vision for the Intermountain Chapter, opportunity for businesses to expand, opportunity for students to gain valuable experience through internship programs, and opportunity for the U.S. and Mexico to function as friends and partners on a deeper level.
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