Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce

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Much like the neighborhood it’s located in, GEODIS Park features a diverse array of Latino flair.

That’s reflected in the local restaurants inside the stadium as well. Those restaurants are some of the many Nashville businesses supported by the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce (TLACC).

“There is nothing more gratifying than walking into GEODIS Park and seeing Latino-owned businesses there, Latino entertainers and iconic imagery from my own childhood in Mexico,” said TLACC Executive Director Jessie Garcia Knowles. “That has been a powerful thing to see, that full immersion commitment from our Latino community.”

TLACC has been active in Middle Tennessee for 22 years. Its mission is to help create opportunities for the Latino community to engage with the broader Nashville community in order to have a prosperous experience in the United States.

Knowles, who has been in her role with TLACC for the last three years, says Nashville’s Latino community is unique compared to other cities across the country.

“The Latino community in Nashville is tantalizingly diverse,” Knowles said. “Most cities around the U.S. have a predominant culture group or identifier. If you go to Florida, there are areas that are Puerto Rican or Cuban. In California or Arizona, it’s Mexico. Nashville is so fascinating because it’s so diversely populated, representing all 21 of the Latin American countries.”

Over the last few years, TLACC’s role in the community has evolved with the nature of the business world. During the early stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic, TLACC took on an important role of translating and relaying information on restrictions, financial aid programs and other important information to Latino businesses in Spanish.

“With the guidelines that were set in place, there wasn’t on-the-spot translation of that information,” Knowles said. “What we really saw the Latino community do during the pandemic was rise up and find those resources for themselves and then divulge them to one another. We just helped disseminate information, translating documents, constantly translating opportunities on how to stay in business and be Covid-conscious at the same time. We worked a great deal alongside other people’s excellent work in the community.”

Other TLACC programs include “Avanzado,” an eight-week program on how to start and maintain a business in the United States taught entirely in Spanish. The Chamber has also helped launch independent programs such as “Futuro,” a 501c3 organization for Latino college students who are getting ready to go into the professional world.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, Nashville SC is teaming up with TLACC with a limited edition Hispanic Heritage patch. All proceeds from the patch support the Chamber’s initiatives for Latino businesses in Nashville.

“It’s huge,” said Knowles of the fundraising from the patch. “It allows us to continue to expand the services we provide to the community for free.”

Support TLACC and their work in the Latino community by purchasing a patch here. For more information on TLACC, visit TLACC.org.