(KCPW News) An effort to cut the state budget will give a group of minority business leaders the opportunity to take the helm of an annual business conference. The result is the first annual Utah Multi-Cultural Business Expo, organized by the nonprofit United 4 Economic Development. It was formerly called the Ethnic Business Conference. Expo Steering Committee Chairman Cal Nez describes it as more than a name change: He says it’s a paradigm shift.
“The time has come that we, the non-traditional, the underserved, that we learn how to fish, no more handouts,” Nez says, “that we become the inviters, that we become the presenters, that we are the employers, that we are the owners.”
Nez is a Navajo and owns a graphic design and advertising firm in Salt Lake City. He’s also President of the Utah Native American Chamber of Commerce. Nez says this is a historic event that will bring many cultures together under one unifying principle: business.
Utah Department of Community and Culture Director Palmer DePaulis says he made the decision to hand over the event to the minority business community after Governor Gary Herbert instructed department heads to cut the fat out of their budgets. He says the change will save months of work typically spent organizing the event, and will empower the minority community.
“I think that makes us more efficient. I think it really gives the sponsorship and the support that’s really needed from government to say, ‘This is really important,’” DePaulis says. “But at the same time, it’s the community doing it, and not our own staff people.”
The Utah Multi-Cultural Business Expo will take place November 17th and 18th at the Salt Palace. There will be a trade show, workshops, networking, and awards.