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Empowerment Zone

Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival includes special Empowerment Zone

Visitors to Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival will have access to job recruiters, educators, union representatives and others as part of a new Empowerment Zone that will showcase available jobs in Iowa.

Each year more than 10,000 people from across the come together to celebrate the contribution’s Latinos have made to their communities and to celebrate their culture and history at Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival.

The Empowerment Zone is one component of the festival, which is from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 22, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines. Cost to attend the festival is $5 for adults and $1 for children 12 and younger.

“We know there’s a shortage of workers for specific jobs and a gap in the skills needed to perform those jobs,” said Joe Gonzalez, the festival director and executive director of Latino Resources Inc., the umbrella organization that oversees the festival. “We want to show what is available to those who want new opportunities to empower themselves through advanced education and skills training.”

The festival committee has joined with public and private education partners, skilled trade unions, private corporations, Iowa Workforce Development and others to support Future Ready Iowa, an initiative to grow Iowa’s talent pipeline, through its Empowerment Zone.

“We want to show attendees there are more routes to success beyond the traditional four-year college education pathway,” Gonzalez says.

“There will be information about accreditation programs, apprenticeships, two-year degrees, contract staffing and more.

“Sabores de Iowa” is the theme for this year’s event and celebrates the Latino community’s varied history and culture with Latinos coming to Iowa from more than 20 countries across the globe.

“We want festival-goers to taste, see and experience all of the flavors our community has to offer,” Gonzalez said. “This is a chance for them to really dive into Latin culture.”

Attendees to this year’s festival will see traditional Latin American foods from countries that include Cuba, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Argentina, and a variety of entertainment from martial arts performers to folkloric dancers, artists’ works and displays about the history of Latin American cultures. There will be musical entertainment both days, as well as cooking demonstrations to show how to make healthy Latino meals.

For more information, visit Visit Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival on Facebook and @latinofestia on Instagram.

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