'Just getting started:' Hispanic Collaborative aimed at addressing disparities, opportunities in Milwaukee

Nancy Hernandez

MILWAUKEE -- After more than two years in the making, the Hispanic Collaborative on Monday, Jan. 14 was officially launched in Milwaukee.

"The real work is just getting started," said Nancy Hernandez, president of the Hispanic Collaborative.

The initiative was created to address disparities and opportunities in Milwaukee's Hispanic community.

"That means income levels grow, job growth, education," said Rolando Rodriguez, Marcus Theatres president and CEO.

To tackle these goals -- the committee is borrowing from the nation's top-ranking Hispanic communities -- like Baltimore and San Jose. Currently,  Milwaukee is ranked No. 39; however, the Hispanic Collaborative has set a goal to move it into the Top 10.

Rolando Rodriguez

"My job is to make it move," said Hernandez.

Hernandez is leading the collaborative. She said increasing income levels is one of three top priorities.

"So how are we moving our working poor from $10 or $12 dollars an hour to $20 or $25 dollars an hour?" said Hernandez.

"We represent present and future workforce," said Rodriguez.

Entrepreneurship is on the list too.

"The Hispanic talent pool is incredibly important to our future," said Tim Sheehy, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) president.

"Hispanics are much more likely to start businesses than any other demographic," said Hernandez.

Finally -- the collaborative is focused on improving civic involvement.

"To help sustain that Hispanic voice," said Hernandez. "The Hispanic Milwaukee isn't on this endeavor alone."

Hernandez said they are working to form a group of subcommittees by spring. Details moving forward -- including a plan of action -- have not been laid out.