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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Nov. 12, 200212:00 PM EST

Group organizing Indian chamber of commerce

by: Bailey White

by Bailey White

Staff Writer

A group of local Indian business people are getting together to form the Indo-U.S. Chamber of Commerce of Northeast Florida. Their goal is to provide its members with networking and meeting opportunities.

Membership will include business people and professionals from Jacksonville’s Indian community. Dev Goswami, the organization’s vice chairman, said the group has scheduled its first meeting for Dec. 5.

“Our main goal is to unite Indian professionals and members of the business community,” said Goswami, who is a financial advisor for Ohio National Financial Services.

Goswami said besides the four board members and dozen or so members of the executive committee, the chamber has received over 100 applications from interested parties.

“Members are from many different professions. The president is Dr. Amit Vijapura, a psychiatrist. We have hotel owners, doctors, pharmacists, engineers, computer operators and gas station and convenience store owners,” said Goswami. “We’re still conversing with the Indian community and spreading the word through our contacts and with newsletters.”

Goswami said the idea for the Jacksonville chapter of the Indo-U.S. Chamber came from organizers who had seen similar organizations flourish in cities such as Houston, Atlanta and Tampa.

“We decided to have a chapter here also,” said Goswami. “We will educate members on current business and economic environment and we will welcome new Indian professionals when they come to Jacksonville.”

Eventually, Goswami said the organization will lobby for certain issues that affect the Indian community and will develop programs to benefit the community’s youth.

Membership meetings will feature an educational speaker. Goswami said the board is hoping to persuade Mayor John Delaney to attend the first meeting and they have gained the support of City Council member and mayoral candidate Matt Carlucci.

“I’ve been very good friends with Nimesh Patel [on the executive committee] for years,” said Carlucci. “The Indian population in Jacksonville makes great contributions to the community. For them to be able to form bonds and communicate would be a great thing.”

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