William Alexander leads Latin Chamber of Commerce into its fifth decade of service to Hispanic businesses
It was just over four decades ago that a small group of Hispanic entrepreneurs got together here to form an organization to protect their business interests, foster commercial growth and contribute to the economic and social development of the South Florida community.
Since, the Miami-based Latin Chamber of Commerce of the United States, known by its Spanish-language acronym CAMACOL, has grown to become one of the largest organizations of its kind in the nation. It boasts of 1,200 corporate members and programs including a loan fund for small and midsize businesses, seminars and workshops, networking events, technical and business assistance, commercial certification of documents and an employment bureau.
One endeavor being launched is its Life Science Program, designed to foster small and minority business in the rapidly emerging biotechnology sector. The program is being conducted in conjunction with the state and its economic development entity, Enterprise Florida.
Meanwhile, CAMACOL is at the forefront of encouragement of free trade in the Western Hemisphere through bilateral and multilateral agreements, including the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.
At the core of the organization's activities is the Hemispheric Congress of Latin Chambers of Commerce and Industry, held here each May and featuring prominent speakers from throughout the Americas.
Spearheading all this activity — as a 30-year member of CAMACOL, its president since 2002 and founder and 24-year chairman of the hemispheric congress — is William Alexander, a Cuban entrepreneur and former airline pilot.
Mr. Alexander, a veteran of the Bay of Pigs invasion who played a key role in boosting Eastern Airlines' passenger traffic between Miami and Latin America, detailed CAMACOL's role and activities in an interview at the organization's headquarters in Little Havana with Miami Today international editor Michael Hayes.
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