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Latino Festival to include special “empowerment zone” to target job skills


DES MOINES, IA – There will be a special Empowerment Zone at this year’s Latino Heritage Festival to showcase jobs that are in need of workers and to provide Latinos with information they need about those jobs.

“We know there’s a shortage in 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.”

Iowa’s current unemployment rate is 2.6 percent and is the lowest it’s been in more than a decade, according to Iowa Workforce Development. The unemployment rate jumps a little higher when it comes to those of Hispanic or Latino origin: 7.6 percent, which is why festival organizers want to provide information about job openings and education opportunities.

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. About 10,000 to 12,000 people attend the two-day event. It features folkloric dancers, martial arts performers, a children’s area, booths about the countries represented at the festival 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.

Prep Iowa

The festival committee has joined with sponsor Des Moines Area Community College, other 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.

Cost to attend the festival is $5 for adults and $1 for children 12 and younger.

For more information, visit, or contact Melissa Walker at 515-681-7731 or Visit Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival on Facebook and @latinofestia on Instagram.

One Comment

  1. How can my company participate in the “empowerment zone” ?

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