Empowering Business

In May, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and the White House hosted the first-ever Hispanic Business Leaders Forum in Washington, DC. This historic gathering convened over 80 of America’s top Hispanic business leaders with senior White House officials, including Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew,  Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz and Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. Topics of discussion included the economy, job creation, education, innovation, immigration, and the impact of Hispanic entrepreneurs on America’s recovering economy.

The USHCC and the White House both recognize the importance of empowering businesses that reflect our nation’s diversity. In her opening statement, Valerie Jarrett asserted that, “To compete in today’s economy, we must draw from the talents, perspectives, and leadership of every community in our country. Today’s inaugural White House Hispanic Business Leaders’ Forum is a key part of making this a reality.” Speaking more specifically to the success of Hispanic-owned businesses, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew stated, “With the number of Hispanic-owned businesses growing at twice the national average, the Hispanic community is playing a critical role in the recovery.”

Hispanic-owned businesses are already pivotal in sustaining communities from coast to coast by providing job opportunities for millions of Americans. Secretary Lew elaborated: “The business and community leaders agreed, we must do more to strengthen the middle class so that more Americans can get back to work and more businesses can succeed. Our top priority as a nation has to be growing the economy and creating good jobs in the United States.”

Among the participants was Linda Alvarado, President & CEO of Alvarado Construction and co-owner of the Colorado Rockies. “The Inaugural Hispanic Business leaders Forum was a historic event, not just for Hispanic businesses, but for all American business. It is clearly recognized that Hispanics are the core economic strength of America’s future. We are not just consumers, but important suppliers and job creators,” she said.

Other Latino executives attending included former mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of HUD Henry Cisneros; Maria Cardona, Dewey Square Group; Lorraine Cortes Vazquez, AARP; and Ileana Rivera, Cisco.

“The Forum highlights the critical role that Hispanic business leaders play in shaping economic growth and in fixing our broken immigration system to ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. These business leaders know firsthand that commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform is good for our economy and positions America to continue to lead in the 21st century,” concluded Cecilia Muñoz.

The Forum highlighted the fact that Hispanics are not “single-issue voters” when it comes to immigration; they are innovators, job creators, and business leaders. The USHCC is leading the effort to broaden the national conversation as it pertains to the 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses which it represents.

Together, these enterprises contribute in excess of $465 billion to the U.S. economy each year. Members of the Hispanic business community represent diverse geographies, backgrounds and business models. They are proudly Hispanic, but are even prouder to be American, and will continue to do what they can preserve America’s free market economy and way of life.

Valentina Pereda