By STEPHEN FLANAGAN JACKSON
Last week The Observer News visited with entrepreneur, organizer, businessman, entertainer and SCC Honorary Mayor Joe Zuniga. Zuniga, a South Shore resident, responded to the following questions:
Q How long have you been in business in Hillsborough County? Where are your business locations?
A I’ve been doing business as Zuniga Marketing, Inc. in Hillsborough since 2005. Most of our business is in the Tampa Bay area, but we occasionally do stuff statewide and out of state.
Q What type of business do you own?
A I own Zuniga Marketing, Inc., a full-service marketing/advertising agency. We maximize exposure for companies’ products and services to specific target markets, in English and/or Spanish.
Q What did you do professionally before your present business?
A I was a mortgage broker for a few years.
Q Where did you grow up, attend high school, and attend college?
A I was born in Miami but grew up in Ruskin. I attended Ruskin Elementary, Eisenhower Jr. High and East Bay High School. I have an associate’s degree in business management from Hillsborough Community College. I’m also certified from the College of Business at the University of South Florida (USF), studied entrepreneurship and business innovation at the University of Glamorgan in Europe, and have a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of South Florida (USF).
Q What are some of the challenges of your business?
A I’d say that one of my biggest challenges is convincing companies/businesses the importance and the benefit of targeting the Hispanic community through marketing and advertising.
Q What gives you a sense of contentment and satisfaction with your business?
A Knowing that I took a leap of faith and created a service that’s unique and much needed by business owners, but also allows me the time to help out my local community through special events and fund raisers.
Q What is the short-term and long-term outlook for the South Shore area?
A Since becoming honorary mayor of Sun City Center my short-term goal is to hopefully inspire younger generations in the Hispanic community to get more involved with community issues and community organizations. In the long-term, I’d like to see the redevelopment and beautification of Ruskin and Wimauma mirror the area’s diversity and accommodate the different demographics so that everyone has a sense of belonging, a sense of community and family.
Q Anything you would like to add, either about your business or your personal/family life?
A Besides owning Zuniga Marketing, Inc., I’m also an award-winning Latin recording artist and published author. I recently returned from a book signing tour and shooting a music video in Spain. On Mother’s Day, I launched my mom’s song “ChikiChiki Boom Boom.” This song is very special to me. She created this little jingle (ChikiChiki Boom Boom) to let her doctors and nurses know that she was feeling better every time she was in the hospital. After she passed away on New Year’s 2015, I decided to transform the jingle into a song in her honor. I’d like to thank the Firehouse Cultural Center for allowing me to shoot the music video there. You can find more information about me at the links below. I travel a lot and stay pretty busy, but I will continue to make time for my community. I look forward to being involved, and I invite more community members to get involved as well. God bless!
Entertainer | Inspirational Speaker | Author
Joe Zuniga was born in Miami, the product of a single mother with a Christian upbringing. He and his family were migrants that traveled throughout the country working in the fields, picking vegetables and fruits. He lived in government housing and attended a Head Start program through the Redlands Christian Migrant Association as a child.
As a teenager, Zuniga discovered a love for music and learned to play different instruments. He pursued music and aspired to become a recording artist; however, peer pressure and temptation led him toward the wrong crowd and was expelled from high school. After graduating from the high school equivalency program at USF, he continued on the wrong path and eventually landed in prison.
After his life changing prison experience, Zuniga received degrees in business management, economics and political science; studied business innovation in Europe; and launched his company Zuniga Marketing, Inc.
In 2011 he realized his adolescent dreams and decided to professionally launch his singing career. In 2012 he became the first in Florida to be nominated for a Tejano Music Award and also won a Tejano Globe Award for his first single. Zuniga was also a finalist on the international Latino talent show Tengo Talento Mucho Talento. Since then, he has traveled and performed at various venues throughout the country, has won other regional Mexican music awards, and in 2016 released his first book Debra LaFave A Crown of Beauty for Ashes. In December 2018 Zuniga was elected honorary mayor of Sun City Center which includes portions of Ruskin, Sun City Center and Wimauma. With his leadership and influence he hopes to bring more inclusion of the Latino community into community affairs along with inspiring younger generations to get more involved.
Zuniga’s mother passed away in January 2015. She inspired him to tell his story and help others. He now performs his music and shares his powerful story in a unique, entertaining and inspirational way at every memorable event. In addition to sharing his own unique story, he hopes to be a voice through which others can share their stories.