Seventy years sounds like a lifetime to most of us, but in this case it is only the beginning of something exciting and inspiring that has an enormous and positive impact on our community. This is a story of Leadership, Empowerment, Vision, and Pride; success which we are all a part of, and feel proud about today.
It all started in September of 1939 with a group of 11 men and one woman who met at El Fenix Restaurant on McKinney Ave. with the idea of creating a new Hispanic business association. Their vision was to develop, promote and protect Hispanic businesses in the Greater Dallas area. The mission was to ensure the advancement and economic growth of the Hispanic business community. The Mexican Chamber of Commerce was born and a new trend for minorities was set.
The increase of activity and membership in the 1960’s led to the relocation of the Chamber, which had become the Dallas Mexican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Located at 4343 Maple Ave in Dallas, the Chamber produced approximately $700,000 in contracts and consistently improved the conditions of minority owned businesses in the city.
The 90’s were of great importance to the GDHCC. It was during these years that the Chamber gained strength and solidified as the institution we know today.
In 1991 first time Executive Director, Frank Cortez and professional staff were hired, and the name of the Chamber was changed once again to its present name, The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
New headquarters were needed and the Chamber along with Maple Ave. Economic Development Corporation created a joint venture to build a 10,000 square foot office building at 4622 Maple Ave, the construction was completed in 1993.
Since 1996 the City of Dallas and the GDHCC have partnered together in a journey, with the creation of the Business Assistance Centers they paved the way for small business owners to succeed. The corporate partners program was also implemented with 16 corporate partnerships.
The success of the GDHCC can be seen throughout its history. In recognition of the arduous effort of developing new initiatives, the Texas Association of American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) named the GDHCC 1993 State Hispanic Chamber of the Year.
Between 1993 and 2003 the Chamber has made history by being the only Hispanic Chamber to be recognized five times as National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce by the USHCC.
In 2007 it was awarded the Large Chamber of the Year award by TAMACC and also by the USHCC. Making the GDHCC the 6 time National USHCC winner.
The Chamber has proven its success in business, but also its passion to improve the life of our community. In its various editions of the annual Viva Dallas Hispanic Expo, the GDHCC has welcomed an average of 20,000 attendees and 300 exhibitors.
Throughout the years, the GDHCC has assisted in funding Hispanic youth and future leaders to continue their education. In 2009, the GDHCC made history by raising $1.3 million dollars in scholarships through the Stars on the Rise initiative. Currently the Chamber of Commerce oversees 3 business assistance centers, helping 100’s of business owners each year by providing education, procurement, and advocacy.
The GDHCC has become a trendsetter in many ways thanks to the devotion, hard work, and support of its leaders, and all of those who have formed the Chamber. Each one of our individual success stories come together to form one great story that has been written in 613,000 hours, 36,000 minutes, 21,600 seconds, it is one that we are proud of. Our efforts today are working to secure the success of generations to come in the next 70 years. Founding members, small business owners and grocers in Little Mexico and West Dallas maintained close ties with the Mexican Consular Service. They held their meetings in Spanish and discussed matters such as civil rights, cultural preservation, and most importantly, collective buying power and business growth.
The Bilingual Job Placement Center which was initiated in 1977, placed more than 450 Hispanic men and women in jobs. A trend for minorities was set again There was an overwhelming success with the Local Economic Development Program, from 1972 to 1977 it turned over $15 million in gross sales for its participants.
In April 1969, Anita Martinez, a chamber member, became the first Mexican American elected to the Dallas city council. Trini Garza, a good member in standing, also became the first Hispanic to serve as a trustee on the Dallas school board.
In 1982 the Chamber changed its name to Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to better reflect the community, and in 1983 the Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation was incorporated, setting a new trend by providing scholarships for graduating high school seniors in disadvantaged communities.