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Posted July 08, 2004

Latinos a key to economic development

As the President Bush’s point man for small business, Hector Barreto spoke to me recently about the six-point economic plan of the administration and its response to recent storm damage in Fond du Lac County.

The administration’s pro-growth economic agenda includes making tax cuts permanent, providing worker skills, controlling health care costs, reducing regulation, reducing frivolous lawsuits imposed on American small business, adopting a National Energy Policy and opening new markets overseas so that more jobs can be created at home.

Last week, Bush discussed with entrepreneurs from across the country his small business agenda. According to the administration, the economy has posted steady job gains for each of the last 10 months, creating more than 1.5 million jobs since August. For both African-Americans and Latinos, the unemployment rate is down by 1.5 percentage points. At 5.6 percent, the unemployment rate is below the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Barreto as well as the president believe that small businesses are the key to economic success. Barreto shared many of the outreach efforts to minorities of his agency over the past two years.

“We created our Spanish language portal, www.negocios.gov, in 2002 and since then there has been over seven million hits on this site. We have a series of online courses called My Own Business, and do live Web chats once a month where we invite guests to answer questions from the public on topics ranging from taxes to financing to health care coverage,” Barreto said.

“With regard to our loan numbers, we had a very successful last fiscal year. In FY 03, which ended on Sept. 30, we made 43 percent more small business loans to Hispanic owned businesses, totaling some $940 billion. This fiscal year, our loans to Hispanics are up some 31 percent year to date,” said Barreto.

The administrator has also had the opportunity to speak to members of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce all across the country. “We are also doing a great deal of outreach at the local level, particularly in communities with large Hispanic populations. We have been very successful in this engagement,” added U.S. SBA Press Secretary Raul Cisneros.

Today, there are about 2 million Hispanic-owned business and the number is growing. This is an entrepreneurial community making economic and social contributions all across the country. This outreach is both the right and smart thing to do to expand economic opportunity and contributing to new job opportunities in this country.

SBA is not only a pro-small business federal agency but it is a proactive protector of small business in times of disasters. For example, SBA helped businesses that were severely damage on Sept. 11, 2001. Their relief efforts help American-owned businesses get back on their feet.

“We deal with people at different stages” in the disaster relief process, stated Barreto. Recently, a woman business owner made an effort to contact him and share that the SBA Disaster Loan helped her get her business back on track. The woman leader did not want to be a statistic and shared her gratitude for the practical help Barreto’s agency played in helping her recover.

In Fond du Lac, SBA is operating a satellite office to assist with damage claims to area small businesses caused by recent storm damage. They will have a temporary office in the Fond du Lac City-County Government Center’s emergency management office. Their assistance will be available from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Camille Solberg, a Fond du Lac resident, is a published writer, activist and broadcaster for the Hispanic community. Her column appears Thursdays in The Reporter.

Copyright 2004  Gannett Wisconsin Online.


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Copyright 2004 Washington Republican National Hispanic Assembly
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