DAVENPORT — Future and current business owners gathered at the Wells Fargo Building in Davenport on Tuesday to learn from and connect with successful business owners and legal professionals at the Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit.
The summit was also designed to promote diversity among business owners and to emphasize the importance of immigrants in the business world.
Guest speakers included Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, Group O CEO and founder Bob Ontiveros and Ying Sa, CEO and founder of Community CPA & Associates who also is chair of the Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit.
“This is really how I grew my business, with sessions just like this all over the Midwest,” Mr. Ontiveros said.
The Quad-Cities native said he is a product of a third generation of immigrants from Mexico. And what started in 1974 as Mr. Ontiveros’ original business, Bi-State Packaging, is now one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the U.S. — worth more than $500 million — and has clients such as Deere & Co., Samsung and Microsoft.
“I was what I call the beneficiary of immigrants, hard working. And that’s what we’re here for, to show you what, with hard work, you can accomplish,” he said.
Tony Knobbe of Wells Fargo Quad Cities, said bringing in success stories like Ms. Sa and Mr. Ontiveros as speakers creates a huge draw for entrepreneurs in general, but the fact that they both come from immigrants or are immigrants, adds to the seminar.
“Mr. Ontiveros is a great example in the Quad-Cities of someone who started a business with nothing and grew that into what’s today about a $600 million business,” Mr. Knobbe said. “He’s an inspiration to us all and has shown other people you can do this.”
Like Mr. Ontiveros, Ms. Sa started her business from nothing. According to her, Community CPA & Associates started in 1998 with one client at $50 a month revenue and is now at 4,000 clients and more than $1 million a month revenue. And she says that there are more stories like hers than people realize.
“I tell you a little bit of my story not because I am the only one, but because I am so normal. There are millions of us like that,” she said.
And this message is one that Mr. Knobbe feels is key to promoting startup businesses and driving the economy in the community, which is really what he says Wells Fargo hopes to accomplish from hosting this summit.
“If we create and if we promote a healthy economy, a thriving community, that makes us a better community to do business in,” he said.
Pictured Zuly Santiago Community CPA & Associates, Erika Macias from Hola America Media Group and Ying Sa CEO and founder of Community CPA & Associates
Photo by Tar Macias