In 1995, an earthquake destroyed Mayra Medrano’s father’s workplace in Los Angeles. Shortly after the earthquake, a relative invited the family to visit Chicago to go sightseeing while searching for a new home. The family found Chicago similar enough to LA, with all the amenities a big city has to offer, that they planned to relocate there.
During their stay there, they ventured north to Wisconsin for a short road trip, where the teenage Medrano was shocked by the green fields and the large cows that roamed on farms.
“Where I grew up in L.A. that wasn’t something that you saw. We didn’t grow up with green anything, unless you were rich and you could pay for it,” Medrano says. “So my parents were like, ‘We don’t want to move to chicago no more, we should move to madison! And they have cows there!’ I’m like, “Wait a minute, are they like in the streets in Madison? Can you ride the cows? But how does that work?’”
Once she figured out that cows are not, in fact, for riding down city streets, the family was lured by the ability to live in a city but still be so close to the country, and settled in Madison.
As a high schooler, Medrano’s counsellors and advisers would ask, ‘what do you wanna do when you grow up, which usually left her with a blank stare. At that moment, Medrano did not know that what she wanted to do was called “business.” However, as a high schooler, she knew well enough that she enjoyed being around people and making things happen.
Today Medrano is aware, and accepts the fact that there are problems everywhere in this world, and because of that there are businesses that exist that have the solutions to resolve these problems.
“It’s probably bad of me to say it, but I like to be around problems,” she says, which inspired her to into the business field. “If there’s a problem, how can we fix it? Businesses have solutions and the reason why businesses have solutions is because there are various people,” all working toward the same solution, Medrano says.
Currently working at Madison Gas Electric, Medrano is also the president of Madison’s Latino Chamber of Commerce. She works hard to help both Latino businesses and the Latino community who wish to go into business. The Latino Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2003 as a public advocacy for Latino businesses in attaining the essential requirements to start a business, such as getting loans, creating a more marketable business, and earning publicity. The Latino Chamber of Commerce provides many services, including a technical assistant to help business owners establish and register their business. Aside from the technical assistant, they also have attorneys who look at leases and contracts, and referrals to accountants. There are so many different resources that not only help Latino business owners, but also create opportunities for people who want to help business owners.
“We are the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County, so we have to be everywhere in Dane County,” Medrano says. “We have a Madison office and we have a Fitchburg office. Ideally it would be nice to have a Sun Prairie office, or a Marshall office. We want people to not think because we’re in Madison, or we’re in Fitchburg that they can’t access us because they live in Sun Prairie.”
Medrano’s next goals are to expand the Latino Chamber of Commerce, and placing more offices in neighboring towns around Madison, as a way of reaching out to other Latino communities outside of Madison. Medrano also aims to increase LCC’s paid staff, in order to reach out to more businesses, and increasing their membership, which is currently at about 300 members.
Medrano loves her job, never getting bored of meetings or Madison in the past 20 years.
Medrano is busy at almost at all times, so busy that she may never get the chance to satisfy that curiosity and ride a cow.
This profile was produced by a student journalist in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more and to support our educational programs, visit madison365.org/academy.