La Raza will hold conference and family expo in KC in 2015

Kansas City will be host to the 2015 annual conference of the National Council of La Raza and the National Latino Family Expo.

This will be the first time the conference is held in Kansas City, but not the first time it has proposed coming here.

The organization had planned to hold its conference in Kansas City in 2009 but switched to Chicago to protest the appointment of Frances Semler, a member of the Minuteman group, to the parks board by the then mayor, Mark Funkhouser. La Raza objected to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corp., a private group that conducted armed patrols of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Semler voluntarily left the board in 2010, and the announcement La Raza eventually would reconsider and bring its convention to Kansas City was not unexpected.

More than a year ago, Bernardo Ramirez, executive director of the Hispanic Economic Development Corp., said La Raza was likely to come here in 2015, and officials said they were “strongly considering” the idea.

Now it’s official.

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of La Raza and a native of Kansas City, Kan., and Mayor Sly James of Kansas City will formally announce the selection of Kansas City as host at 11 a.m. Monday, according to an announcement released Thursday. They will be joined by leaders of local La Raza affiliates.

La Raza said the four-day annual conference is the nation’s largest annual gathering of leaders, advocates, elected officials, business executives and change makers whose work affects the Latino community.

An estimated 5,000 registrants are expected to attend workshops and hear nationally recognized speakers. About 10,000 visitors are expected at the family expo. The exact dates of the convention are expected to be discussed Monday.

The Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association declined to comment Thursday about the announcement, but the organization previously estimated that the 2009 La Raza event that was scrubbed would have brought $5 million to the local economy and filled 5,000 hotel rooms.

According to La Raza, the National Latino Family Expo is one of the largest such events in the country, with 200 exhibitors showcasing products and services aimed at Latino families. There will also be live entertainment, giveaways for free health screenings, and cooking and exercise demonstrations.

The 2013 conference and expo are being held in New Orleans. Next year they will be in Los Angeles.