Two local Hispanic-owned businesses were honored at the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida’s (HBIF) 2016 Success Stories Luncheon on September 14, presented by OUC The Reliable One. The event is the nonprofit organization’s annual fundraiser to recognize outstanding clients and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. At the end of the event, the nonprofit organization launched a new brand, to be implemented within weeks.
Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera delivered remarks at the event. In commemoration of its 25th anniversary, the organization recognized its local founders, many of them still engaged with HBIF today. Representatives from event Host Sponsors Orlando Magic, PNC, Walt Disney World Resort, Fields BMW and Wells Fargo also spoke at the luncheon. This year, the event attracted 530 attendees, including Central Florida government, business and community leaders as well as HBIF clients and volunteers.
The honorees were selected among entrepreneurs who have received HBIF services and have since then demonstrated success, growth and economic impact through their businesses. This year, in light of the anniversary, an additional selection criteria was more than a decade of successful entrepreneurship in Central Florida. “They are exemplary business owners, hard-working, determined individuals and our reason for existing as an organization,” said Gaby Ortigoni, vice president of HBIF in Central Florida.
These were the two Hispanic entrepreneurs recognized:
- James Harhi, owner of JFH Technologies and Innovative Attraction Management, LLC
After a successful career in large corporations and small businesses, he purchased his first business at 29 years of age. His newest business, IAM LLC, provides consulting, operational management and maintenance services to aquatic theme parks in the U.S. and overseas.
- Ruben and Laura Perez, owners of Zaza New Cuban Diner and Perez of Florida
They began with a restaurant in Central Florida, and today they have several businesses and investments in the food industry, including restaurants, airport coffee shops, catering services and a contract with the convention center. This family-owned and operated business owns three Zaza New Cuban Diners and already has plans to open additional locations in the region.
At the end of the luncheon, HBIF launched its new brand, to be implemented in November. After 25 years of serving Hispanic entrepreneurs in Florida, the organization is rebranding to better meet the needs of its clients, funders and community partners. “We are the same organization, with the same core values, mission and services, but with a great new name and look,” said Linda Landman Gonzalez, member of the statewide Board of Directors. HBIF will become Prospera, its tagline “Advancing Hispanic Business.”
The 2016 Success Stories Luncheon was made possible thanks to these sponsors’ support: Presenting Sponsor: OUC The Reliable One. Premier Sponsor: Univision Orlando. Host Sponsors: Fields BMW, Florida Blue, Orlando Health, Orlando Magic, PNC, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo. Champion Sponsors: AT&T, Bank of America, Duke Energy, Florida Hospital, SunTrust and University of Central Florida. Honorary Sponsors: Conrad Santiago & Associates with Ameriprise Financial, El Osceola Star, Expo Event Solutions, JP Morgan Chase and Telemundo Orlando.