California Forward‘s efforts to restructure a dysfunctional state government struck a deep chord with people attending the 23rd annual Business Expo presented by the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Friday in Fresno.
Folks seemed drawn by the question posed in large letters on a poster board propped atop the table: “How Would You Fix California?”
Kristine Walter (pictured, left), the organization’s Regional Partnership Coordinator for the Central Valley, said people were interested in learning about the group’s aims, such as restructuring state government to increase accountability and transparency, so that more control is given to local entities that best know their communities’ needs.
Diana Enriquez, Corporate Marketing Representative for Valley Public Radio, said she wasn’t familiar with California Forward before the expo. But she recently heard a presentation by a Fresno-area nonprofit group that chooses not to accept government funds because the money comes with too many restrictions and red tape. When Enriquez saw the California Forward booth, it caught her attention.
“I’m planning to visit the website,” Enriquez said. “I’m interested in seeing what proposals they have and how they’re planning to do them.”
Between 700 to 800 people were expected to attend the expo, which each year helps promote Hispanic businesses as well as provide attendees with an opportunity to network and learn from successful business and community leaders.
John Hernandez, the chamber’s executive director, described the expo as “one of the crown jewels” among the organization’s activities, giving members an opportunity to showcase their products and services, network widely with other colleagues, and share ideas.
This year’s theme was “Harvesting the Future of Central California Business.” Participants were able to attend sessions that covered a variety of topics, such as leadership, careers and effective use of technology.
Hernandez said he appreciated California Forward’s presence at the event, because many people complain about government but don’t get involved. California Forward is working to change that attitude.
“Education is never a bad thing,” Hernandez said, “and that’s what they’re trying to do.”
Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea, who was honored as Legislator of the Year by the chamber, also lauded the nonpartisan organization’s endeavors: “California Forward is a strong bipartisan voice to change the way we govern our state.”
Speakers included Roy Perez, incoming chairman of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and Reyna Torres Mendivil, the Mexican Consul in Fresno and a veteran diplomat.