Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
Offices of the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce were abuzz in conversation Oct. 1, as guests chatted in English, Spanish and French. A delegation from Québec, Canada paid a call on Irving businesses to initiate a new outlet for international economic development.
Jonathan Bazan, Development Services Director with the City of Irving said the initiative was two months in the planning.
“The Québec delegation is visiting Dallas/Ft. Worth, and they picked Irving because of our strong business community,” Bazan said. “I also think the presence of D/FW airport here in Irving helps facilitate any agreements or business between Irving businesses and Québec.
“A lot of local businesses are excited to talk to Canadian companies; a lot of Canadian companies are excited to talk to local businesses, so it’s a win-win for Irving.”
Miguel and Ruby Lopez represent local businesses hoping to expand their presence internationally. The couple lives in Irving and operates financial and construction businesses, primarily for the Hispanic community, under the MITO banner in Dallas and Addison.
“It’s a great opportunity we have through the Chamber to make connections for business development,” said Miguel Lopez, also an accomplished tenor who has sung opera and performed songs of his heritage at the Irving Arts Center.
“My focus is on integrating the Hispanic community into the North American community, and the world community,” he continued. “There is a large Hispanic community in Canada, but they don’t know about what we are doing here. They need more integration.
“The problem is that the Hispanic community is sort of closed. But the Chambers here have welcomed me. They helped me prepare a business plan. I have very little English, but they say to me, ‘Come on, Miguel, you can do this’.
“I was born in Mexico and my city there is a sister city to Irving. I have been in the United States now for ten years. My wife and daughter live here. Irving is already the big door to Texas. So this could represent development for us personally, for our family, for our culture, and for our business.”
Shortly after our conversation the Lopezes were grinning ear to ear as they met and conversed – in Spanish – with Paula Caldwell-St-Onge, the Consul General of Canada, a member of the delegation.
Caldwell-St-Onge kicked off the formal presentation as Louise Fortin, the Director of Economic Affairs for the Québec Government Office underscored the many similarities between North Texas and Québec.
“We are both powerhouses for aerospace; for biotech and life sciences; for the energy industries,” Fortin said. “We are prominent in IT and computer technologies, and in apparel and accessories.
“There is much we can do to help one another.”
Some information provided by the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.