Where are you from?

Colombia, South America

What was it like growing up?

We moved to the U.S. when I was 5 (in 1972). So, we lived in the U.S., but, obviously, traveled back and forth quite often. My parents wanted to come to America to give my siblings and I the chance to determine our own destiny.

Why did you #ChooseCLE (what brought you to Cleveland)?

I moved to Cleveland 11 years ago to buy the business that I operate here today.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning to the United States?

I didn’t have any major challenges. The language was a barrier, but challenges are only what you make them to be.

What is your occupation?

President of Bernie Moreno Companies

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Cleveland is probably one of the most welcoming cities in America. It’s a great place. If you’re not from here, you realize pretty quickly that people make you feel as if you are from here.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

You never lose your heritage. Your heritage, your traditions are who you are. We’re very family-centric. My siblings and I all get together quite often. We speak Spanish to each other. You keep all that. You never lose who you are.

What do you love about Cleveland?

The people. They’re very friendly, very nice, very easygoing, salt-of-the-earth-type people.

What is your favorite thing to do in Cleveland?

I love Lake Erie. I’m a boater. Most people who aren’t from here don’t realize that part about Cleveland.

What is the best thing about living in Cleveland?

Everything’s easy here. Not a lot of traffic, and things are relatively inexpensive. There’s a burgeoning restaurant scene, too.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants?

Of course, we need to welcome immigrants. Otherwise, it’s not America. The important thing is legal immigration. You want to have legal, controlled immigration.

What suggestions do you have to make Cleveland a more welcoming community?

The number one impediment is that we don’t have international flights. You can’t get here. It’s not on the radar map. If Cleveland were really serious, they’d get subsidized flights for Colombia, Mexico City, and other international cities.