EDISON, NJ–The Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 6th annual Hispanic Business Expo on July 20 at Pines Manor in Edison.

This event provides a great opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to connect with influential Hispanic leaders and potential clients through networking, community outreach, referrals, and brand awareness.

The main purpose of this event is to help small business owners expand their opportunities not only among the Hispanic market, but also in the “general market.”

“The idea is to help them have an opportunity to offer their goods and services beyond the Hispanic market, to non-hispanics and big companies as well,” explains Luis de la Hoz, chair of the Small Business Council and member of the Middlesex Chamber’s Board of Directors.

According to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, it is estimated that Hispanics will contribute over $1.3 trillion to the general United States economy in 2016 and Latino businesses have a startup rate of six times the national average.

Statewide, some data from the Rutgers Latino Information Network and the Pew Hispanic Center shows that Middlesex County’s Latino population has grown 45% between 2000 and 2010, currently making up 18% of the total population.

But this segment of the population has not only grown in demographic terms, its spending power has also grown, accounting today for 11.4% of the total New Jersey spending.

“Not all Hispanics are undocumented immigrants. There is a growing group of first-generation Hispanics with access to education who are now contributing to the local economy,” said de la Hoz, adding that there are about 80,000 small business owners in N.J. that contribute over $12 million to the state economy.

In addition to their contribution to an active economy, generating business can also improve Hispanics quality of life. “Most Hispanics open a business out of necessity, to avoid working for temporary work agencies. Opening a business is the real opportunity to overcome poverty,” said de la Hoz.

However, there are two barriers for small businesses’ development and success: access to capital and access to new markets.

The expo is designed to tackle these two problems through access to information and contacts that will eventually lead to an expansion of their business opportunities.

The Hispanic Business Expo has seen a steady growth since its first year when only 50 exhibitors registered to participate and 250 people attended.

Last year, the event hosted 130 business exhibitors from different sectors including nonprofit, healthcare, retail, finance and hospitality and attracted about 1,000 people.

Now in its sixth year, they expect to have at least 150 exhibitors and the participation of 1,200 attendees.

“Our dream is for this event to become the biggest Hispanic Business Fair of the northeast of the United States,” said de la Hoz who is also vice president at the Intersect Fund, a New Brunswick-based micro-lender to small business entrepreneurs.

Participants can enjoy a variety of activities at the expo. In addition to the networking opportunities, seminars will provide important statistics and marketing programs.

Moreover, this year the expo features two keynote speakers with a strong track record who will be sharing their experiences and insights on business and multicultural markets.

One of the speakers at the Hispanic Business Expo is Liliana “Lili” Gil Valletta, an award-winning entrepreneur, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, TV media contributor and President of XL Alliance.

She will be giving a talk on harnessing the power of today’s multicultural markets.

Also, Enrique Arbelaez, award-winning entrepreneur, CNN contributor and Co founder of the XL Alliance, will be speaking about multicultural leadership.

Both speakers will be addressing the audience from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

The Expo will also serve as a Latin American Food Festival and a venue to share an authentic experience with music, dance and entertainment.

There is a lineup of music and dance performers including Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre, Salsa Montuno, Ecos del Sur, among others. This fact, provides an opportunity for Hispanics to participate in a familiar environment, while exposing their culture and identity.

The admission for the general public is free and there is a $30 fee for those interested in attending the keynote speakers conference.

For small businesses interested in showcasing their good or services there is a $200 registration fee and for large business exhibitors the registration fee is $400.

Also, restaurants are welcome to exhibit food samples for free.

According to Luis de la Hoz, 30% of the smallest business will not pay a registration fee thanks to sponsors’ contributions.

For more information about the event and registration you can contact the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce at 732-745-8090 or visit the expo official website at hispanicbusinessexponj.com.