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Latino business owners: Despite shutdown, small businesses need support

Posted Oct 12 2013 9:44am

LOS ANGELES, CA -The government shutdown has temporarily suspended the Small Business Administrations lending program and the process to obtain government contracts.

Yet the number of Latino-owned businesses is expected to double this year from the number that existed in 2002, according to a recent study released by the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Geoscape. Another report from the Kaufman Foundation shows that immigrants were twice as likely to start businesses than native-born Americans in 2012.

Figuring out ways to help and bolster Latino businesses and entrepreneurship especially at this time  is one of the key goals of  The Latino Coalition’s 2013 West Coast Economic Summit, taking place in Oakland, California.

The Latino Coalition is a non-profit national organization founded 18 years ago by a group of Hispanic business owners to research and develop policies relevant to Latino entrepreneurs. This free summit brings together business owners across California to network and share tools that support small business growth.

Hector Barreto, chairman of The Latino Coalition and the former administrator of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) during the George W. Bush administration, tells NBC Latino that the ongoing fiscal crises in Washington are hindering business expansion.

“The government shutdown has the US markets sliding and although government can shut down; small businesses need to keep moving forward,” Barreto said. “Congress needs to come together with job creators that will free up corporate money and private sector investments in order to spur job growth and get small businesses expanding again.”

Barreto’s focus for the gathering was on what he refers to as the 3Cs: capital, contracts, and capacity. With three million Hispanic small businesses in the US, knowing how to get financing is key especially for new companies that do not have a credit history.

“The SBA is the largest guarantor of small business loans in the country. When I was there, we increased the number of loans going to Latinos, women, and other minority business owners,” Barreto said.

Drawing on his experience at the SBA, Barreto explained that he has worked with banks to make smaller loans for the businesses that don’t need large loans. At Wednesdays summit, Biz2Credit will be represented, which is an aggregator of loans that will find entities to make loans to small businesses based on size and the type of business. Barreto calls this process “match making for loans.”

How to obtain government contracts will be addressed at the summit, along with capacity issues, which involve helping small businesses run more efficiently to keep more of their revenue.  How to deal with regulation will also be addressed.

Coco Corona, a Latina business owner and President and CEO of By Design Multimedia, echoed the sentiment that Congress needs to come together to fund and re-open the government to keep businesses moving.

“Those of us who are in business are looking to see if our leaders in Congress can come to the table and negotiate. You have to be able to get along — you might not like who you are sitting in front of but these people are not sitting down and are not listening to what a majority of the US population wants,” Corona said. “For Latino businesses to grow, they will need support. If nobody is working and funding loans, then businesses will be shut down and employees will be let go.”

Adriana Maestas is a senior contributing editor at Politic365 and one of the co-founders of the DailyGrito.com. She resides in California.

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