Close up shot of Cheese puffs, Colorful Cheetos and mini pretzels

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Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Sees 200 Percent Member Increase

May 01, 2018 - 8:58 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce continues to grow.

During its annual recognition event, chamber president and CEO Karlos Ramirez said membership is about to hit 500 members, which is a 200 percent increase, and staff has grown from two paid staffers six years ago to now seven. He says the chamber is very diverse.

“Half of our members are non-Hispanic owned businesses, and even aside from that we actually have within Latin American there’s 23 different countries represented, so it’s really not narrow even amongst our own Hispanic population,” he says.

Richard Montanez, the man known as the creator of the Flaming Hot Cheetos line of products when he was working as a janitor, delivered the keynote. He told the story of  seeing the company's chips in the grocery store in only two flavors and thinking of grilled Mexican corn covered in cheese, lime and chili and wondering if he could combine the two. He and his wife took plain Cheetos and spicy seasoning and created test batches in their kitchen before meeting with the company CEO to test them.  Montanez rose thru the ranks and is now head of multicultural sales and marketing for Pepsi North America. Fox Searchlight Pictures is making a movie about his life.