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How far Indian American Chamber has come

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Posted at 7:00 AM, Nov 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-17 07:00:09-05

CINCINNATI -- Five years ago, local Indian professionals sat down at an informal meeting and considered this fact: Indians in Cincinnati are small business owners and professionals in the fields of engineering, medicine, law and accounting.

But unlike their Hispanic and Asian counterparts, they had no formal business networking organization.

After a few brainstorming sessions, the Indian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky (IACC) was born.

On Nov. 6, the organization celebrated its five-year anniversary. At the event were U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono, who delivered the keynote address.

“We want to continue to build an organization that connects the Indian community, so that the members can create partnerships, network, and have access to advocacy and links to resources. This will empower them with a greater ability to give back to the local community,” said architect Krutarth Jain, the new president of IACC.

Jain, a principal with Champlin Architecture, succeeded founding president Rajan Coutinho, an attorney with Wood Lamping who has moved to a seat on the IACC Advisory Board.

Developing Connections

IACC hopes its agenda can be broader than just connecting locally owned Indian businesses, said Daniel Rajaiah, the volunteer executive director of the organization. He said this is an exciting time for developing business and cultural connections between India and the United States.

“We want to strengthen ties between Cincinnati and Indian businesses,” said Rajaiah, a former aide to Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley who was named to Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 list. “We want to promote policy and trade discussions between the countries, which we hope will encourage more people to come here to do business. And we want to give back to the city of Cincinnati.”

Last year, the organization donated the proceeds of is annual gala, approximately $5,000, to the Mercy Health Foundation of Cincinnati. The organization is in the process of deciding where the funds from this year’s celebration will go, he said.

Growing Membership

Jain said that the IACC is run by a seven-member volunteer board and has about 1,000 members who pay annual dues of $150. As IACC grows, it plans to be a powerful voice for its members in the community, he said. Jain emphasized that IACC is a business chamber, unlike the multiple Indian religious, cultural and social associations already in existence in the area.

Arun Lai, a financial consultant at AXA Advisors and an IACC member, said this chamber makes a major impact on how Indians can excel in business.

“An individual can only accomplish so much, but as a group with all our diverse talents and collective knowledge, we are unstoppable,” Lai said.

“We hope to make our community better than we have found it. When we have been so blessed, it is our obligation to give back,” he added.