Seven delegates from Wenatchee traveled to central Mexico recently to familiarize themselves with Mexican culture.
“It was just a whole new adventure and to go with people from my community and to see it through different eyes it was good,” said Linda Haglund, Wenatchee Downtown Association director. “It was really, really good.”
Mayor Frank Kuntz described the trip as a way of reconfirming the city’s commitment to Latino residents who make up 30 percent of the city’s population — by learning what drives the culture economically.
“I think the team learned a lot about the culture and how to do business, a little bit how to communicate and, you know, I just think it confirmed some of the stuff we’re trying to do,” Kuntz said.
Kuntz and Haglund were accompanied by Councilman Mike Poirier; Community and Economic Development Director Steve King; United Way of Chelan & Douglas Counties Executive Director Alan Walker; Molina Healthcare Community Engagement Coordinator Mario Cantu; and Councilwoman Ruth Esparza, who coordinated the trip.
Esparza couldn’t be reached for comment, but before they left she said, “To me, the purpose is to kind of get a real feel for what the Latino economy is like and what drives it,” Esparza said, in particular small business.
The group flew to Mexico on their own dime and spent eight days visiting government officials and community members in Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque and Aguascalientes.
While she met plenty of Mexican community leaders, a highlight for Haglund was simply rubbing elbows with other Wenatchee leaders.
“Honestly … to be with people who love their community and to go on a trip like that with our community in mind was incredibly valuable,” Haglund said.
King met with his economic development counterpart in Aguascalientes and learned that small business drives their economy.
“I was just amazed at their programs and how progressive and how right on the cutting edge they are,” King said.
Adding, “They really have an amazing program to help people get started. They have about a 90 percent success rate.”
One feature that stood out was the need for kioskos in Wenatchee. Similar to a gazebo, a kiosko is a essentially a gathering place with a center stage and domed roof, King said, and they’re found at just about every town square.
Kuntz said a kiosko at Methow Park in Wenatchee has been in the works for a while.
“You could tell that a kiosko was a big thing,” Kuntz said. “It just confirmed that we need to get a kiosko in Methow Park.”