The Nevada Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business was awarded funds in 2009 to create the “Imagine 2012” program. The program is an initiative to increase both student and faculty diversity, not only within the College of Business, but campuswide as well. As part of the initiative, HispanicBusinessNevada.com was created this summer to provide the community with one central location to find reliable information about Hispanic businesses in Nevada.
“We wanted this to be a source for Hispanic information and resources in Nevada,” said Marcel Fernando Schaerer, program manager in the Nevada Small Business Development Center of the University’s College of Business and one of the designers of the website.
This year, “Imagine 2012” transitioned into “Imagine 2020” in order to provide a long-term vision of the College of Business’s goals for diversity increases. Imagine 2020 presents faculty exchange programs for the College of Business to allow students to interact with professors from Mexico and to spread diversity among students. This summer, Professor Isaias Rivera from Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey at Chihuahua Campus in Mexico taught a class on the Nevada campus, “The Changing Environment of Business,” as a part of the professor exchange.
“There are inconsistencies when it comes to finding information about the Hispanic business community, and it’s been rather difficult to find a website where specific and reliable information can be found,” Schaerer said. “HispanicBusinessNevada.com was designed as a portal in which information about Hispanic businesses can be grouped – providing demographics and information for business resources, as well as for business activities in or outside of Nevada or Mexico.”
Schaerer said business lists are also available for purchase from the website, and new lists will be updated annually for both the Reno/Sparks area and the Las Vegas/North Las Vegas/ Henderson area. Currently, the list has 2,400 businesses listed in the Reno/Sparks area and 5,000 businesses listed in the greater Las Vegas area.
As for future aspirations for Imagine 2020, Schaerer hopes to expand outside of the University and to work very closely with the Washoe County School District in order to support the ongoing effort to increase graduation rates.
Overall, high school graduation rates in Washoe County are currently at about 70 percent, with the graduation rate for high school Hispanics in the district being at about 55 percent. The Imagine 2020 initiative would like to help increase those rates, especially for minorities.
“By working closely with the community, I believe these goals can be achieved,” Schaerer said. “With opportunities such as the three-week class on entrepreneurship for high school Hispanics and minorities that we offered this past summer. “With the help and support of all University faculty and students, the campus will continue to power the necessary steps to embrace, include and engage diversity.”
For the past four years, the College of Business has provided its annual Business Week in September, which has been included in the Imagine 2020 initiative to spread diversity in the college. This year’s Business Week runs now through Sept. 30. The week includes high-powered speakers and activities aimed at celebrating business and provides workshops, speakers, information sessions and networking opportunities for business students, alumni and the community.